The sirens on the fire truck blared as fire crews left the station Tuesday evening, they were on their way to another home to help another family. Only this time, the home wasn’t on fire and the family wasn’t in any sort of distress. The family was one of four families chosen, based on need, by the fire department to receive gifts for the holidays.
The gift-giving event is a tradition for the McPherson Fire Department and the McPherson Fireman’s Benefit Association.
“I've been on the department for four years now and they’ve done it since I've been on,” said Lee Burgess, fire fighter and president of the McPherson Fireman's Benefit Association. “Most of the time, it’s families that go to school at Roosevelt, Lincoln, Washington and Eisenhower.”
For the event, the fire fighters get dressed up, drive over to the family’s house, and then invite the children to come out to meet them and see inside the fire truck. They also bring two or three presents for the children and a gift card for the parents. To give them ideas on what to buy for the children, the parents provide the children’s ages, sizes, likes, dislikes and also what the child might specifically want this year.
“A lot of times, it's clothes and toys, that type of stuff,” said Burgess. “I know last year the family that we had got a bicycle.”
The families are always appreciative of the fire department’s efforts and Burgess said the children are always excited to see the big, red, truck with the lights flashing. Before they can show up however, the school gets permission from the families.
Because there are four shifts of fire fighters, there are four different families that receive gifts. While one group is out delivering gifts, there is another group at the station in case of an emergency.
“We show up and the kids have a really good time,” said Burgess. “The parents are very appreciative of our efforts.”