Firefighters shop for sponsored families

Article content

Usually they start in the ‘essentials’ section at Walmart looking for shampoo, soap – shopping for basics that all families need. Then maybe clothing. But they all eventually find themselves in the toy section.

More than a dozen Tillsonburg firefighters and their families, many of them with friends, were shopping for six families in need during the Christmas season Saturday afternoon.

It’s been a tradition for the Tillsonburg Firefighters Association four years officially, and unofficially more.

“We look forward to this day all year long,” said Captain Ted Sanders from Tillsonburg Fire & Rescue Services.

“We talk about it all year, we plan this out extensively. Honestly it’s weeks and weeks worth of planning. We start with our Steak Barbecue in September. We get the funds from that and we discuss how many families we’re going to be able to assist with the help of the community.

“Today we’re coming to help help some families out. We come out at Christmas time, we get some families that are in need, and we go shopping. We have about 15-20 firefighters here tonight – and families because the fire department is all about families – and we buy for people in the community that need a little bit of help. You can see, there’s firefighters all over the place. We’re all walking around, puzzled… and happy.”


Story continues below
This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Wearing Tillsonburg Fire and Rescue, and Tillsonburg Firefighters Association, shirts and jackets raises their visibility in the community. And sometimes results in donations.

“We had a person tonight that was shopping in Walmart, a resident of Tillsonburg, and she donated to us,” said Sarah Barclay, Tillsonburg Fire and Rescue Services. “That’s very heart-warming that the public also sees what we’re trying to do, promoting community, and she donated $20 to us, which is fantastic.”

“We involve our ‘fire family’ as much as possible because that’s what the fire department’s all about,” said Sanders. “It’s all about family. We bring our family, our children, our friends and we come together and try to support the community because that’s what being a firefighter is about. It’s about supporting the community… and that’s what our families are all supporting as well.”

As an added bonus, the children give them expert knowledge when it comes to selecting toys and clothes.

“That is why we bring our family,” Sanders laughed. “Because when the list has a 14-year-old girl, we have a 14-year-old specialist to help us with the shopping – they’re the ones that know what they want and we just go with their hearts.”

Firefighters shopping for families in need started off small with three families supported in 2015.

“As we’ve grown through the years, the firefighters Steak Barbecue has become one of our main sources of funding to assist the community. We do understand that times are getting tough, and there’s only so many people that can give, so we appreciate everything that people can give. And if we can help out a few families, that’s just great.”


Story continues below
This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

The firefighters and their families continued shopping Sunday at Sobeys Tillsonburg.

“Sobeys has been a great sponsor for us, assisting us with this family shopping every year, adding donations of meals and food and hosting us on many occasions, especially with the food drives,” said Sanders. “The firefighters do multiple food drives with the assistance of Sobeys Tillsonburg – they have been absolutely fabulous in their support of us and the community.”

“We would also like to thank Walmart for their support today with the gifts,” said Barclay, adding, “and the Tillsonburg District Real Estate Board has been a huge supporter in the past couple of years. They held a luncheon and provided us with just under $500 in proceeds to go towards our families this year. And CIBC donated a group of toys.

“Over the years, the program is definitely expanding and a success,” she said.

As word gets out in town, Sanders said they hope to get assistance from more businesses and individuals.

“The need is there… and we’ve got to do something to help the community. And if we can give a little bit, we’ll give a little bit.

“This year we’re shopping for six families,” he noted, “with about 10 children involved. We’re going to buy them the essentials that they need, just as a family, as well as a few things they might be wishing for that they couldn’t get without our assistance.”

“A lot of children,” Barclay nodded.

“We would like to thank everyone in the community for supporting us during our Steak Barbecue,” Sanders summed up, noting it’s held annually in September around 9-11, “because that’s where we get the funds to help people in the community.”

News Near Tillsonburg

This Week in Flyers