WESTFIELD — Christmas came one day early for some 100 youngsters in one local community as the Westfield Volunteer Fire Department served as Santa by delivering toys collected during a December toy drive.
The station, located at 3386 Old Westfield Road, collected toys and donations from residents along with contributions from Family Dollar Store in Westfield and First United Methodist Church Preschool in Pilot Mountain. The Family Dollar Store location adjacent to the fire station also provided an in-store drop box for community donations.
“By providing that box,” said Jonathan Sutphin, Westfield volunteer fire department chief, “Family Dollar played a big part in making this a success. They provided a location for donations that was both visible and accessible throughout the week.”
Sutphin also noted that one donation came from Hawaii, after a former resident who now lives on the islands had heard about the project and wanted to help.
The resulting toy distribution on Christmas Eve afternoon featured firefighters using fire trucks to make their deliveries throughout the community. To the delight of gathering groups of children, trucks approached each site with flashing lights and blaring sirens.
Toy distribution was targeted to several areas of the community recognized to have need. Toys were eventually delivered to some 100 children over the course of the afternoon, with each child receiving at least two toys.
“It went great,” Sutphin said of the afternoon toy distribution. “We want to thank our community for their support of this. We had eight firefighters, along with members of their families, who took part. It was a humbling experience for all of us and a good example for our own children. We get so much from this. It’s a blessing for each firefighter.”
In addition to the toy distribution, Sutphin said, firefighters were able to provide families with about 75 bags filled with hygiene products such as wash cloths, deodorants, toothbrushes and toothpaste.
“It was good to be able to do that in addition to the toys,” Sutphin noted. “Last year was our first year of doing this, and we learned from that. We’d given out about 20 bags then and had seen the need for more. This year we were able to put together 75 bags and we still ran out. We hope to be able to continue to expand on this in the future.”
“We appreciate everybody who helped to make this possible,” Sutphin said. “This is what Christmas is really all about.”