Gifts are usually not presented at the fire department until December. But it was not a normal day for a number of area fire departments.

XTO Energy Inc. officials met with area fire department officials Thursday afternoon to hand out checks. Those financial contributions, the amounts of which were not disclosed during the presentation, will be used to fill a number of needs for the mostly volunteer departments.

"Any donation is well received," Dickson Fire Chief Troy Duke said. "We are always looking for funding. We will use it for operational costs. If it fills a tank of gas, it is more than we had. We don't have a lot of funds. We have a small sales tax, but it doesn't take long to go through that. Any source of funding is a big help."

Guy Hedges, XTO senior productions manager, made the presentation to fire department officials from Lone Grove, Dickson, Gene Autry, Ardmore Airpark, Madill, Mannsville and Springer.

"We work hand in hand with you," Hedges said. "We appreciate what you guys do out there. We know the donation is small, but we hope it will help you with some of the things that you do."

Mike Todd, XTO regional manager of public and government affairs, referred to the donation as an example of community partnership.

"The reason we are doing this is neighbor to neighbor," Todd said.

The donations were one of several that have been made to fire departments in the area. Hedges said departments are invited to the XTO facilities for a tour and to become familiar with operations.

"Just in this five-county area, we have given away $8,000 to $10,000," Hedges said. "We are part of a community, and we have several employees that work in the volunteer fire departments. We know budgets are tight, and are glad to be able to help."