ELIZABETH, NJ - Elizabeth Firefighters rivaled Santa this holiday season with a series of good deeds for their neighbors in Elizabeth.
At every tree lighting, firefighters escorted a jolly man in a red suit, and even gave him a ride on a fire engine on a few occasions.
FMBA Local 9 started the season off by donating toys to Ryan's Toy Roundup held again at Suspenders Restaurant and Pub. This yearly event honors the life of Ryan Faella, the late cousin of Local 9's members, Edward Sisk IV and Nicholas Sisk.
“This is always a great event to start the season with because it honors a member of our extended firefighter family and puts into perspective what this season of giving is all about,” said Vice President David Bialas.
The toys from Ryan’s Toy Roundup are donated to multiple charities in Elizabeth and around Union County.
For the second year in a row members worked with Missionaries on a Mission to provide bicycles to children in the community. This program also honors a member of Local 9’s extended firefighter family, late Elizabeth Police Department Detective Edward Gray, father of Local 9 member Mark Gray. During his career with EPD, Det. Gray would provide raffle tickets to children in the community for a chance to receive a bicycle during the holidays. The children of the organizers of this event grew up benefiting from the kindness of Det. Gray and that is why Missionaries on a Mission continues this program today.
Cerise Simmons, President of Missionaries on a Mission, stated, “We are blessed and thankful for the work that your members do for our organization and the community.”
During times of tragedy and need, Local 9 usually meets Rev. Joseph Adair in his capacity as the city’s Relocation Officer working hand in hand to respond to the needs of the city’s residents. This year, Local 9 decided to partner with his church, the Second Macedonia Baptists Church, to help fund their yearly holiday dinner for city residents in need.
President Michael Guarino stated, “Rev. Adair’s church has done so much for members of this community, especially in the wake of the recent house explosion in the city, that we are happy we can help them accomplish their mission this holiday season.”
This week, members donated holiday dinners for eighteen families to St. Joseph’s Social Center. Vice President Bialas said, “While children think of Santa during the holiday season adults in Elizabeth can’t help but to think of Sister Jacinta Fernandes and the work that she does to help those less fortunate not just during the holidays, but every day of the year.”
Members also worked with Second Ward Councilman Nelson Gonzalez to help two families in his ward. “Councilman Gonzalez has always been a great supporter of our city’s firefighters and Local 9’s members, and when he identified families having hardships this year we never thought twice about providing assistance,” said President Guarino.