After many hours of behind the scenes work, Windham firefighters and their families pulled out of the East Windham Fire Station with three decorated fire trucks and more emergency vehicles following behind on their way, with Santa, to drop off presents for four families, including six children.
The event was organized by Lieutenant Chip Jones, who has been doing this for the last four years. Each November he goes to local businesses to gather gas cards, gifts, food, cleaning supplies, gift cards, haircuts, money and anything else families might need. The members of the
fire department also donated to the cause. This year they were able to provide Christmas for four families.
“It was outstanding that we got so many gifts,” said Jones. “Next year we’ll go a little bigger.”
Some stores were not able to donate, but the managers pulled money out of their pocket to help the cause. Waitresses at Bucks Naked BBQ bought gifts with their own money and according to Jones, “They went way over board. There was an overwhelming response from Windham.”
On the way to visit the first family, the trucks stopped to pick up homemade cookies and treats. Then, the caravan of emergency vehicles paused to pick up two more trucks at the Windham Public Safety building before continuing on to visit the first single mother and her three children.
Each family was pre-qualified by the Windham Food Pantry. Many families can only afford to buy one gift for their children. This year these kids are going to get 15 to 20 gifts each, Jones said. “It’s pretty amazing.”
With the lights going and the sirens calling out, Santa and the fire truck procession arrived at the first house.
“The kids are going to be happy,” said mom Amanda Perrin. “It’s nice to know there are good people out there.”
“The house is full of hundreds of presents!” exclaimed Jacob, age 7.
At the second house, the mother and daughter came out to greet Santa and say thank you while the gifts were taken inside.
“I wasn’t expecting all of this at all,” said the mother, who asked not to be identified.
The third family was Stephanie Smith and her 41/2-year-old daughter, Arley, who didn’t have tree, but were assured that they would have one by Monday.
“I can’t believe we don’t even have a tree. We’ve never really sought help at Christmas. It was just really tight this year,” Smith said.
“We got her everything on her list,” said volunteer Melissa Wing. “We get just as excited about it as they do.”
The fourth family came to meet the fire truck and volunteers at the end of their driveway. “This is more than I expected,” said mom Nicole Adams. “It’s pretty awesome. It’s not something that happens to you every day. I’ve seen other people get gifts, but nothing like this…a bunch of firefighters come to bring you gifts. It’s a real big help to me with the gifts.”
The final stop for the lighted trucks was to the home of Lisa Duncanson, whose husband worked for the fire department before his passing three years ago. Santa made a special trip to see Duncanson’s grandsons.
The Windham Fire Department would like to thank the following businesses for their donations:
Masa Sub & Grill, Gorham Windham Professional Firefighters Association Local 4095, South Windham Firehouse, North Windham Firehouse, Cyclone Hose Company, East Windham Firehouse, Latin Honor Society at Windham High School, The Nail Spa, Lee’s Auto, Benny’s Barber Shop, Molly’s Cupcakes, Buck’s Naked BBQ, Payless Shoes, Marshall’s, Pizza Hut, Dominos, Friendly’s, Hannaford, Shaw’s, Walmart, Windham Jewelers, Innovations Salon & Spa, Dena’s Lobster House and Tavern, Lowes, Applebee’s, Danielle’s Sebago Diner, Smitty’s, Heaven & Earth Day Spa, anonymous donors and family members of the Windham Fire Department.