Making Spirits Bright

November 15, 2013 Updated Nov 15, 2013 at 7:20 AM EDT

By WKBW News

November 15, 2013 Updated Nov 15, 2013 at 7:20 AM EDT

Niagara Falls, N.Y. (WKBW) - Niagara Falls fire fighters are making spirits bright for children across the city and this has been a tradition for decades.

“Eighty-five years ago fire fighters started to collect broken or discarded toys. Most toys back then were made out of wood so they would repair them in their spare time and give them away to impoverished children in the community,” Captain John Castellani.
Now, toy repairs are a bit more complicated so fire fighters collect new toys or funds to buy gifts for these kids through the Niagara Falls Fire Fighter's Christmas Toy Fund.
“Working with all our partners in the community including all the city schools, the Boys and Girls Club, the YMCA, Social Services and several other agencies who have contact with the children throughout the year. They identify the kids who are most needy,” Castellani said.
Michael Hamilton is with the Boys and Girls Club. He said year after year, he sees heart-warming stories that make this project special.
“We've helped a lot of families through the fire fighter toy fund. Some of the families can't believe what the fire fighters do. We give them a big bag of toys and they say is this all for my family. I say yes this is what the fire fighters do,” Hamilton said.
Fire Fighter Vinnie Orsi explains the process.
“Starting around early November we start going to Wal-Mart to get a stock of toys so we always have toys. Then as applications start coming in we buy whatever toys we need,” Orsi said.
The money raised not only go to gifts for Christmas. The fire fighters also used the money to keep kids cozy.
“Over the past 20 years we've evolved into a charity that have make sure that children have clothes to protect them from our harsh Western New York winter,” Castellani said.
The fire fighters said every child deserve a happy holiday, having everything they need from the essentials like coats and hats, to some fun surprises from Santa.

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