Anyone who has seen “Toy Story” knows no matter what happens, toys always find their ways back to you.
Since the beginning of 2017, Alachua County Fire Rescue has spread cheer by delivering toys to families in need, especially those they rescue. And yesterday, one of its fire trucks stopped by a residence in Newberry.
The three Costa children unwrapped gifts — two-year-old Roman, five-year-old Xavier, and 8 year-old Aburay.
When they first walked out the front door, Xavier jumped up and down upon seeing the firefighters.
The child’s father, Daniel, said he and his wife were unsure how Christmas would turn out for them this year, after a fire ruined their home in October.
“That’s one of our struggles,” he said. “The holiday is around the corner, but with the help of very warm brothers, we are getting through it. Whatever we have to do for the kids to make sure they don’t see the struggle and just to ensure a better life for them.”
A fire truck roared through their neighborhood, and this time, it drove a load of beautifully wrapped gifts and an early Christmas celebration to the family. The children weren’t the only recipients of a surprise.
Even though Daniel and his wife, Rebecca, didn’t request anything for the holidays, Alachua County Fire Rescue gifted them a washer and dryer.
Still, Rebecca said her favorite gift was seeing her children smile and having hope for better times ahead.
“It looks like 2018 is going to be a very good year for us,” she said. “I’m deeply grateful and humble.”
Chad Smith, the treasurer of the agency’s union and charity, said this was the second family they have adopted for this program.
“For us to be able to give back, and to see the joy and the expressions on the kids’ faces and how much this meant to mom and dad, it’s just a good, heart-warming experience.”
Alachua County Local 385 Charities are accepting donations dropped off at any fire station in the county. You can also contact Smith at 352-727-6066.
Rescue lieutenant Jennifer Blakeney brought her children to the event. She helped organize the fundraising and toy drive and explained the significance of their mission.
“I have two kids…and I can’t imagine losing everything in the fire especially in the holidays. So it would be really nice for them to have something for the kids to look back on and just know that Alachua County Fire Rescue is helping our community the best way we can.”