Holiday Toy & Joy - My Favorite Holiday Memories! | Health, Love & Fire

Holiday Toy & Joy - My Favorite Holiday Memories!

Friday, December 5, 2014

I shared this post last year, but now that I'm all giddy and in the Holiday Spirit, I decided to share it again for those of you who are new around here or might not have seen it. One of my favorite traditions and memories is a tradition that my Husband and I share with our Fire Department family. My husband Dan is a full-time firefighter/paramedic and has been part of the same department for 11 years. Throughout the holiday season, families who can't afford to buy their children gifts for christmas come down to the station and fill out paperwork to be part of the Toy and Joy program. Once they have filled out paperwork, members of the department check the families and verify that all of the names and ages of the children are correct. Their names get imputed into a system and they cards are created with all of their information on them. This helps with knowing how many toys to purchase, who to wrap gifts for, and how to deliver the toys. 

Starting right after thanksgiving, a group of us pick a Tuesday night and all meet at a local store to get our assignments. Current members, past chiefs, and family members all spend a couple hours picking out hundreds of toys for children ages newborn to 17. Dozens of carts are filled and shelves are emptied as we purchase hundreds of dollars worth of toys, books, and gifts. We gather coupons, have gift card donations from the employees, and pick certain nights to get the most discounts possible. From baby dolls to transformers, bottles, to basketballs, our carts and hearts are filled with the fun memories of childhood and what gifts kids would want to open on christmas morning. 

The group who bought all the gifts! 

Look at that receipt! 

You can see how long the receipt is! 

After we have purchased and received all the toys and have them organized by gender and age group, we are ready to wrap. Three to four nights a week during the entire month of December we all gather down at the station and wrap presents for the families. Its fun to pick out different toys and games to wrap for these children and imagine how excited they will be christmas morning to open them. Just think, if we didn't wrap gifts for these children, there are some who wouldn't have anything to open on Christmas morning. 

Dan trying out one of the donated bikes! 

On Christmas Eve, the fire department gathers and delivers all the toys. It takes us about 4 hours to fill the boxes with more toys and stuffed animals, add in candy canes and a christmas card, and drive all over town to deliver the boxes of gifts. Seeing children's faces light up when they see that santa has sent them gifts is such an amazing thing. It's so easy to forget about others that are less fortunate than yourself, but being able to give back in such an amazing way is life changing. 
All the bikes, waiting to be delivered! 

When I married a firefighter, I didn't just marry in to his immediate family, I got an entire fire department family as well. When I think about the different traditions our family has, some of my favorite ones are the ones we share with our family at the fire department. Not only do our firefighters share a bond, but all of their loved ones do as well. I am so thankful for the support, love, and traditions we all share during the holidays and all year long. I encourage you to find a local program like our Toy and Joy program this holiday season, and donate a toy or your time to help make a child's christmas morning better! I can honestly say, it will be one of the highlights of your holidays! 

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  1. When I was a child, my dad got laid off and I was lucky enough to be one of the tots who was given the toys she wanted through a wonderful charity. Now that I am grown and in a spot financially where I can give back, I am a dedicated supporter of Toys for Tots. Thank you so much for sharing this story! :)

  2. This is such a great tradition! The credit union I work for adopts a family every year and shopping for them is so much fun. I can imagine the warmth in your heart you feel for shopping for kids on such a large scale.

    Happy Holidays!

  3. How amazing!! I am so glad I did operation Christmas child so I could give a child the gift of Christmas!! It's such a good feeling!!

  4. We used to have a huge toy drive at one of the police departments I worked at. The fire department would then deliver all of the toys by fire truck to the kids right before Christmas. It was a really neat thing for our small community.

    I e-mailed you the other day but haven't heard back?! :)

  5. This is so amazing!! What a wonderful thing you are all doing for the community! Beautiful!

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