Flanders Firefighters, Residents Give Santa Claus and the Marines 600 Toys

Flanders Fire Company #1 & Rescue Squad hosts Santa’s Toys for Tots train

as the firefighters bring Santa to town the first of two times

Doug Fenichel, APR, MICP
Public Information Officer
Flanders Fire Company #1 and Rescue Squad

103 (1)FLANDERS, N.J.  – Flanders firefighters, emergency medical personnel and people from the community braved Saturday’s snow to pass about 600 toys into a boxcar that brought Santa Claus and a U.S. Marine to Mount Olive Township.

It was the fifth year the Flanders Fire Company #1 and Rescue Squad hosted the Toys for Tots train and collected toys for underprivileged kids. This year, members of the Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce and Mount Olive Police Department assisted in the effort to gather toys. In addition, many local residents and their children greeted the train Saturday.

“The Flanders Fire Company #1 serves the community in a variety of different ways, not just fighting fires,” said Doug Fenichel, president of the Flanders Fire Company Association, the organization that handles the business affairs of the department. “This is a way to have some fun and take care some of local children.”

“It’s a big boost for morale here,” said Kevin Dolan, a firefighter who has coordinated the fire company’s participation with the Toys for Tots train. “Everyone has a good time. The kids come out because they love Santa Claus. Everyone loves trains, and the train brings Santa and a Marine here and it serves kids in the community.”

While most people huddled inside the firehouse and chatted with Santa and Mrs. Claus, firefighters and a human chain of children passed gifts up into the box car. More than 600 toys, including two tricycles and one bicycles, were put into the train. Staff Sgt. Frederick Wiedermann says the toys will help make sure kids who wouldn’t otherwise get a Christmas toy will have something to unwrap.

“Our goal is to make sure every kid gets a toy for Christmas, something they may not have gotten,” said Wiedermann. “Stops like this are hugely important.”

Firefighters will continue to collect toys for the Toys for Tots program. Santa will return to Flanders Saturday to visit neighborhoods by fire truck to greet children and pass out candy canes. Santa also will collect additional new, unwrapped toys for the Marines.

“The Flanders Fire Company #1 and Rescue Squad has been driving Santa around town since the 1960s,” said Fenichel. “The town was smaller then, but the kids were just as excited to see Santa. Now those children have grown up and it’s their kids running out to our trucks to see Santa. We’ve added the additional service of helping Toys for Tots. It’s one of the favorite activities our firefighters undertake each year.”

Santa will visit various neighborhoods throughout the day on Dec. 21, passing out candy canes and greeting children. Fenichel said families who have children with special needs can ask Santa to stop and visit with their child. Reservations must be made in advance by calling the firehouse at (973) 584-7805 and leaving a message.

The Flanders Fire Company and Rescue Squad No. 1 provides fire protection and emergency medical services to residents and businesses in Flanders and, through mutual aid, surrounding towns. It is made up of about 50 members, all of whom receive training in fire suppression, rescue, hazardous materials response, homeland security issues and emergency medical services.

The fire company, which is always looking for new members, operates two fire engines, one tower truck, one heavy rescue, a brush-and-foam truck, two ambulances, a multiple-casualty unit and a mass decontamination unit.

In addition, the fire company offers public education services including lectures, demonstrations, training and a trailer that safely simulates a smoke-filled home. For information about membership, donations or public education, call (973) 584-7805 or click on www.flanders-fire-rescue.org.

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