Local fire departments play Santa for area seniors

Volunteer firefighter Traci Miller delivers smiles as part of Be a Santa for a Senior.

For more than a decade, some local fire departments have been warming hearts during the cold holiday season, spreading Christmas cheer one door at a time.

Marion and Cedar Rapids firefighters participate in Be a Santa for a Senior, an annual event coordinated by Home Instead Senior Care in Cedar Rapids.

"It's a great program," said Shawn Fluharty, Marion fire captain. "[Home Instead] obviously [does] all the work. They get the donations. They package them all. They completely compile the list. We just do the fun part and go out and deliver."

Home Instead has expanded its gift-giving over the past decade from less than 100 seniors to more than 600.

"We throw out this call to action," said Sherry Peterson, Home Instead's office manager. "If you think of every single set of hands that touched the program, that's our community."

Stepping up in a big way are individuals and businesses donating presents.

This year, Marion firefighters delivered more than 90 gifts, up from roughly 65 in 2016.

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