Firefighters help local kids receive a Christmas to remember Families depend on the generosity of others
Helping others seems to come naturally for some and the holiday season gives many people a reason to give. Lake Stevens firefighters are holding their 10th annual Tips for Firefighters at Ixtapa in Lake Stevens this Saturday evening as a way to raise money for local families in need of help this Christmas.
Firefighter Pat Cook wanted to be able to help local kids and so he contacted Lake Stevens Family Center Director Kathleen Friend a decade ago to see how he and his fellow firefighters could help out. Their 'Tips for Firefighters' has now become an annual event that many look forward to each December.
"We all decided at some point in our life that we wanted to help people; this is why we became firefighter/EMTs and firefighter/paramedics," Cook said. "Doing 'Tips for Firefighters' just reinforces what we are about. It's not just emergency responses. It is a way to give back to our community that does so much for us. Christmas is all about children and the best part about this is knowing that come Christmas morning, a child will have gifts to open and a smile on their face."
This huge but important endeavor takes the hands and hearts of many people but each year the effort is well worth it.
In the last nine years alone our Lake Stevens firefighters have been able to purchase Christmas gifts for 360 children and 120 families living within the Lake Stevens School District.
"Their ability to do this is only by the generosity of our community," Friend explained. "The first Saturday in December at Ixtapa's 'Tips for Firefighters' event has afforded the firefighters the ability to, each year, sponsor up to fifty local children through their genuinely joyful volunteerism and commitment to the 'Tips for Firefighters' event.
Families can sign up for assistance at the Lake Stevens Family Center. The Family Center then gives LSFD the Christmas lists of families in need and then they purchase, wrap and distribute the gifts to the families.
"There are families that, for a variety of reasons, sign up for assistance as late as the week before LSFC closes for the holidays," Friend said. "Lake Stevens Fire has relieved the stress on staff to fill the 'wishes' of children that we receive after all the giving tree tags have been distributed and families assigned. Were it not for L.S. Fire, there are children that might not receive anything just because of the timing of the application submission by their parents or caregivers."
During the 'Tips for Firefighters' event, Ixtapa customers can donate an additional tip to their firefighter bus boy or girl or they can bring gifts to Ixtapa and give them to one of the firefighters for distribution. Every gift and monetary donation goes directly to purchasing gifts for local families.
"After the event, we contact the Lake Stevens Family Center and let them know how many children we can support. We spend $100 on each child," Cook said. "Our men and women then spend a few hours at Target shopping, fulfilling to best of our ability, the Christmas wishes. The parents then come to the station and pick up the gifts for their children. We've been working with Target for the past eight years and they allow us to purchase the gifts tax free which increases our purchasing power."
The Family Center has already received applications for Christmas help from 165 families and is expecting to receive many more.
"We are on track to have the same number of families as last year which was 240 families and represented over 950 children," Friend said.
There are many families in Lake Stevens who are either in financial crises or are nearing one and making sure that the children in those families have the opportunity to wake up to presents under their tree on Christmas morning is something that others in this community can help with as well.
"There are children in our community that need your help this Christmas. Christmas is all about the kids and that's what makes Christmas so special," Cook said. "As a community of caring citizens, the community of greater Lake Stevens is a wonderful place to live, work and raise our children."
Friend reminds us of other ways we can give as well:
Eat at Ixtapa's Restaurant on December 7 and show your appreciation to Firefighter servers through a generous tip for their exceptional service.
Donations of gifts that can be purchased from tags - located at various local business Giving Trees - please check the Family Center's website for a complete listing.
Sponsorship of individual families by yourself, a company you work for, or an organization you belong to.
Individual tax-deductible cash donations.
"The charity of giving and reaching out to a family that is struggling to make ends meet can many times be the difference between that family feeling that all is hopeless and hope restored for a better new year on the horizon," Friend said. "Without the generosity and investment by local community members and organizations like LSFD the Family Center would not have the ability to provide holiday gifts, food, clothing and assistance to the hundreds of families needing our support each year. Our community never ceases to amaze me when looking at the wide array of supports that become apparent when there is someone in need. Holiday giving and joyous celebration of children in low-income families happens only because of you!"
'Tips for Firefighters' begins at 6 p.m.
If you need Christmas help or you would like to donate to help a family in need please call the Lake Stevens Family Center at 425-397-7433.