MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - You could see the anticipation in the children's faces at the Moss Point Head Start Center, as they waited for the special visitors from way up north. Moss Point firemen were also waiting for a visit from the special guests Thursday.
Then the sleighs, well make that trucks, arrived one after the other, eight in all, loaded with thousands of toys. Members of the New York City Fire Department appeared, and quickly got into a battle of dueling Christmas songs with the kids.
Fireman Tommy O'Conner explains why he and his pals have done this for five years.
"We received an outpouring of support after 9/11, globally," O'Conner remembered. "And when this Katrina happened, we decided we would come down here and reciprocate. And the bond we started with the people of the area just started to take over."
Then the real work began, as a virtual assembly line of firemen and their helpers began to unload all the toys and goodies. The line stretched through the entire building, as box after box made its way to the storage area.
This project warms the heart of fireman Richard O'Leary.
"It's great to see the joy in the kid's faces," O'Leary said. "For people who don't have as much as we have, who aren't as fortunate as I am personally and the environment that we are in, especially in these hard times, we're more than happy to give back."
And the bond of friendship that developed between the firemen and the children is the best present of all, according to Head Start Director Vanessa Gibson.
"We are friends and we look forward to not only the toys coming, but the friendship, camaraderie, that comes with them coming back every year," Gibson said.
And the firemen promise to be back every year, making even more friends and lighting up the faces of the children.