Santa Clara firefighters are often credited with saving the day. Whether it’s a medical emergency or a fire, the members of the Santa Clara Fire Department (SCFD) are quick to respond. This holiday season, they’re also responding to Santa Clara families in need of a holiday pick me up.
The SCFD, in conjunction with the Firefighters Foundation, worked with the Santa Clara Unified School District (SCUSD) to identify local families in need. In the past few weeks, the fire department accepted toy donations at all of its local fire stations and at community events. Then, it laid all the items out at its local training facility to create a toy extravaganza.
“We essentially set up a toy store for the families to come shop,” said Jillian deBar, the firefighter in charge of the toy drive. “There’ll be live Christmas music for them to enjoy. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there. They’ll have hot chocolate and cookies. They’ll be able to take pictures in front of a fire engine while also shopping and picking out toys. So, the reason for that was to let them enjoy a whole holiday experience while also getting toys and being able to take all that in together as a family.”
Families were invited to the facility on Dec. 16 to enjoy the event. There was a little something for kids of every age inside the holiday toy story, including bicycles for the older kids.
Everyone at the SCFD played a part in making the toy store a reality. Several fire captains worked transportation, bringing the toys in from the many collection points in the City. Meanwhile, the department’s probationary firefighters had the extra duty of laying out the toys for the families. And it was all hands on deck the day of the event.
For deBar, it’s about spreading the joy of the holidays to others.
“I’m a huge Christmas person. I love everything about the trees and the music and the way that it makes people feel,” said deBar. “I had such pleasurable, happy memories growing up with Christmas and the hot chocolate and the music and all that, and I just want to give that to other people who may not have the opportunity otherwise.”
Because of the way the calendar played out this holiday season, the drive happened a little earlier than usual. Even though the main event for families has passed, deBar says toys will not be turned away. She says the toys will be distributed to families that come in a little later or sent to a larger organization that can still use them. If all else fails, the toys will be set aside and stored for next year’s event.
You can find out more about all of the things the SCFD does in the Santa Clara community on the website santaclarafirefighters.org.