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'Empty Stocking' still giving

WINDER - Though the Holiday Season might be synonymous with a blizzard of toy drives, leaders behind the benevolent efforts know that every gift counts.

In Barrow County, the annual "Empty Stocking Toy Drive" is no exception.

The drive, which has wrapped up its second week, stockpiles gifts for the patrons of Peace Place, a shelter for battered women and children.

So far, collections have been modest at best.

"The first Saturday of this year's drive was a little slower than we had hoped," said Barrow County Fire Department spokesman Lt. Scott Dakin, whose agency partners with CERT - the Community Emergency Response Team of Barrow - to make the drive happen.

"We're trying to remind every citizen of the need," Dakin said, "and ask them to help us reach out to these children and give them a Christmas to remember."

New, unwrapped toys can be dropped off at any Barrow County Fire Station or the Fire Department Administration Office, 66 McElroy St. in Winder. The deadline for donations is Saturday.

For more information, call organizers at 770-307-2987.

Fire dept. revamps Web site

Fire officials in Barrow recently launched the department's revamped Web site, an easy-to-navigate portal packed with information on department programs and current news.

Browsers will also find a heap of photos - including pics of the department's equipment and stations - to boot.

"This Web site allows citizens to learn about the services and programs the department offers," said Lt. Richard Carignan, site designer. "It's very user-friendly and will be continually updated."

Visit the revamped site at www.barrowfire.com.