Doing good deeds and giving back to the community are what makes volunteer firefighters who they are. Yet the Village of Mamaroneck department doesn’t confine its work to village borders.
On Friday, they packed a truck from Powell Catering with enough food to feed a small army—along with a sleigh-full of toys bought with help from the —and headed up to Valhalla to create a Christmas in July experience at Blythedale Children’s Hospital, which treats kids with complex medical issues and also houses a school.
“I listen to WPLJ radio and every year during the holidays, they come up here,” said firefighter Felix Hughes, who helped organize the event. “There’s a lot of things going on here in December, but not so much at this time of year. I was talking with the guys and we were kicking out ideas and someone said something about Christmas in July so we ran with it.”
Department members conducted a fire prevention demonstration, prepared and served lunch, recruited Mario the Magician to donate his time and got to play Santa by handing out gifts.
Most of the money to support the giveback came from the between the Village and Town firefighters, held in April at the Hommocks rink. also raises money for the department’s pet causes, including children’s sports teams, scholarships and other non-profit endeavors.
This year’s event at Blythedale is the first time the department has hosted the event and is also the first time they have done something outside the village, said Village of Mamaroneck Assistant Chief Robert “Bubba” Pecchia.
“Once we got here, it became very emotional,” he said. “We’re having fun and doing something good for the kids. Next year, when we get all the glitches out, we’ll do something even better,” he said.
Everyone smiled when it came time to pass out the gifts. “What a nice job they’re doing; it’s beautiful,” one staffer remarked to a colleague.
It took a while to hand out all the gifts and some of the children who got theirs early showed great patience waiting until the rest of the kids received their presents. “Now?” one of them asked. “Not now,” another one answered. Though Santa could not attend, few recipients noticed—or cared.
“We’re very fortunate that they’re here,” said Amelia Carpanzano, assistant principal at the school, referring to the firefighters. “It’s great that they’ve donated their time like this.”