Trenton Fire Department (TFD) had its hands full at “Santa’s Last Call” toy drive on Friday as a line that filled up the sidewalks behind the TFD Headquarters on Allen Street looped all the way to N Montgomery then over to Perry. 

“The crowd that’s out here,” Kenneth Douglas, Director Of Fire and Emergency Services said,  “Now, I’ll be quite honest with you, is bigger than what I thought it’d be.” 

This was made possible by a committee that was set up to create and execute the Hero’s Holiday Initiative, an initiative that held different events with the Fire Department including the Food Drive that took place last week. 

“Once the committee came together and decided that these were going to do things as far as the food giveaway and toy drive,” Douglas said, ” (We) really had to put it on a map and really get out there with the flyers, canvass the city grassroots effort, and to get a crowd out here down.” 

About 15 volunteers and 25 firefighters on and off duty started to filter the large crowd. As the people began to filter through, like the food drive, they were given a runner to protect both them and fire volunteers who would help pick out their toys for the children. Each child was allowed to pick from each table with stuffed animals, sports balls, board games, and dolls.
Denise Walls is a volunteer with the Trenton Fire Department and was manning one of the tables filled with toys. She was helping out because  Trenton once helped her. “I was once a homeless person with three young children in the city of Trenton,” Walls said.  “So now that I’m older and able to give back, I do. I try to do as much volunteering as I can to give back to the community as the community gave back to me at one time.”

Throughout the day the fire department handed out over 10,000 toys to 2,100 children and counting, according to the Fire Department. Walls handed out toys to children of all ages. “It makes me feel good because, you know what, it only takes one person to make a difference in somebody’s life…and this is how you do that. You come together as a community,” Walls said. 

She was handing out toys to parents to go home a wrap gifts to leave under the tree on Christmas day. Parents like Irban Jackson, a Trenton resident who was picking up toys for his three little ones back at home.

“A lot of things go on (in) Trenton that we appreciate,” Jackson said, “and this is one of them…(It’s) hard but we try to make it (as) easy as possible. And I’m thankful for the Trenton Fire Department making it easy for us.” 

Mayor Reed Gusciora hands out stuffed animals to children in line waiting to receive presents from the Trenton Fire Department. Photo | Drew Mumich

Although the lines were long, kids were treated by waiting with stuffed animals handed out by Mayor Reed Gusciora, who walked down the line handing little frog stuffed animals as the kids huddled around him to receive it. “The one thing about the fire director is being prepared,” said Mayor Gusciora, “So he’s definitely a trooper. He’s gotten hundreds of donations from various organizations. We’re really proud of this fire department that’s really reaching out to the community. And this is the season of giving.”

Throughout the day, it was all hands on deck as volunteers with the Fire Department gave out plenty of presents to the community. “People can actually go home safe, go home happy, and know that the city actually cares about them. We are a giving city, we do a lot for the residents. And I’m glad to be part of that process with the City of Trenton,” Director Douglas said.