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For the children's sake: Hueston family makes $1,500 donation to VCAD toy drive

Friday, November 30, 2012

Employees of the Vernon County Ambulance District accept a check for $1,500 for the Christmas toy drive, from the family of Justin Hueston, a VCAD employee who died in a traffic crash in September. From left are Jeri Senkovich, James McKenzie, Katie Hueston, Mike Hueston, Denise Hopkins and Tina Werner.
By Lynn A. Wade

Nevada Daily Mail

"Any time anyone needed help, especially if there were children involved, he was there," said Justin Hueston's wife, Katie, as she delivered a $1,500 memorial donation to the Vernon County Ambulance District's toy drive in his honor, Wednesday afternoon.

Justin Hueston, a three-year veteran of the Vernon County Ambulance District and a National Guardsman, of Mapleton, Kan., was killed in a traffic crash Sept. 25; and after his death, the family requested memorial donations be made to the toy drive.

"The ambulance district was very, very important to him. He loved everything about it. Doing things for the toy drive -- anything for children -- was really important to him. He looked forward to the haunted house," which is a fundraiser for the toy drive and to the toy drive itself, so "We knew immediately this was something we wanted to do in his honor."

Helping people was Justin Hueston's passion, and the Christmas toy drive and giveaway was near and dear to his heart -- especially since he and Katie had two children of their own, Colby, who's now 5; and Paityn, who's 4.

His love of family and the children is why he joined the National Guard, Justin's dad, Mike Hueston said -- to help take care of his family. Even when he was on deployment with the National Guard he'd stay abreast of the goings-on at VCAD, both Katie and Mike Hueston said.

Tina Werner, VCAD, said Justin Hueston would have been ecstatic about the amount donated in his honor; and district employees present were obviously touched by the gesture made by the Huestons. Mike Hueston said that an additional $1,000 has been put into an account to be used in future drives.

Meanwhile, the much-appreciated donation has given this year's drive a much-needed financial boost. "We're at about the halfway point," VCAD Director James McKenzie said.

Last year, the toy drive and giveaway served about 600 children; an effort that could cost up to an estimated $12,000. So far, about 200 children have signed up for the program. Sign-up takes place at Community Outreach.

The haunted house raised almost $5,000, in addition to the Huestons' donation, and a few dozen toys already have been donated, mostly in barrels placed outside the VCAD headquarters at 515 E. Walnut and at area stores such as the two Dollar General stores.

The program serves children through age 12; and toys are needed for boys and girls of all ages, although McKenzie said the greatest need is often for gifts appropriate for children ages 10-12. New, unwrapped toys are welcome as are monetary donations, which may be brought to VCAD headquarters during business hours.

"The community has always rallied for this," McKenzie said. Every year, for the past 25 years, the community has met the need, no matter the size of the need. "We couldn't be successful without the support of the community," McKenzie added.

The toy giveaway is scheduled for Dec. 18.

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