The Columbus Firemen’s Cheer Fund is celebrating an outpouring of generosity from local residents who showered local fire stations with basketloads of new and used toys over the weekend.

Ben Noblitt, a Columbus firefighter and Cheer Fund board member, was smiling Monday as he weaved his way through filled-to-the-brim shopping carts containing toys, games and stuffed animals at the Cheer Fund distribution site inside the United Way of Bartholomew County warehouse, 1531 13th St.

In addition to the carts filled with toys, larger donations such as two Barbie miniature Jeeps, several doll houses and activity centers were placed on the warehouse floor.

“This is just so great,” Noblitt said as he walked through the space that just a few days earlier was empty. “We really needed this.”

Having boxed up most of the holiday gifts on hand for youngsters the organization will serve this Christmas, Cheer Fund volunteers found themselves short of toys for the final 300 to 500 kids still on the list. So Noblitt sent out a social media notification last week that the toy drive might fall short without more help — which often happens right after Thanksgiving.

Noblitt described the situation as being extremely desperate to have enough toys for boys ages 8 to 12 and girls age 7 to 12 in his Facebook post, along with a photo showing empty shelves at the warehouse.

A story describing the situation also appeared on front page of Friday’s Republic.

Over the weekend, Noblitt said the toy-giving blitz began, with area residents showering local fire stations with bags of new and used toys.

For more on this story, see Wednesday’s Republic.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at or (812) 379-5631.