Nobody Does it Better Than NY Firefighters

Alabama Local News - December 06, 2009

AMONG THE many people and organizations who help the needy during the holiday season, the New York City firefighters stand out. Since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, the firefighters, the 9/11 Families for Katrina Relief Foundation and other organizations have collected donations and delivered truckloads of toys and books to needy children in Bayou La Batre and Mississippi.

They're here again for Christmas 2009 with eight truckloads of goodies.

The event began because New York City firefighters wanted to reciprocate for the help and support they received after the terror attacks of 9/11. A one-time journey would have been impressive enough, but the firefighters say they love making the trip and so they keep coming.

The need remains: Starting last Wednesday and continuing through the weekend, children and their parents lined up by the thousands to select a book, a toy, a stuffed animal. Local volunteers turned out to assist in the distribution.

Many families along the Gulf Coast are still suffering from the hurricane, and now the economic downturn has hurt others.

On the Mississippi coast, Jackson County Head Start spokeswoman Vanessa Gibson said her 700-plus pupils look forward to the firefighters' yearly return.

"We've formed such a relationship with these 9/11 firefighters that they call us throughout the year to find out what we need," Ms. Gibson said. "They are just as excited to be coming down as the kids are about them coming."

And in Alabama, Gov. Riley credited the New Yorkers for "continuing to set a fine example of service."

"Because of their efforts, Christmas will be a little brighter for so many children across the Gulf Coast. I want to thank them and let them know that Alabama appreciates them," he said.

If you run across some NYC firefighters anywhere along the Central Gulf Coast this weekend, why not pause for a moment and thank them, too?