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Flanders Firefighters Help Santa Fill His Train With Toys During First of 2 Visits to Mount Olive
Flanders Fire Company #1 & Rescue Squad Continue Tradition of Escorting Santa Around Town on Fire Trucks and Welcoming His Toys-For-Tots Train
By: Flanders Fire Company #1 and Rescue Squad
It’s the seventh year that firefighters and emergency medical providers at the Flanders Fire Company #1 and Rescue Squad have worked with the Toys for Tots program and rail workers from the Morristown & Erie, Norfolk and Southern, and New Jersey Transit railroads. The train rolls up on tracks that run next to the Flanders Firehouse.
Firefighters joined with rail workers to form human chains passing toys up into the boxcar. There, they were counted and stored for the ride back to the Marine’s warehouse. About 500 toys were collected at the fire station.
The collection of toys will continue, said Kevin Dolan, treasurer of the Flanders Fire Company Association and the firefighter who coordinates Santa’s activities.
“Santa’s train came a little early this year,” said Dolan. “Fortunately, people can still drop new, unwrapped toys off at the firehouse for the next couple of weeks. The Marines will collect them the week before Christmas. We’ll also be picking up more toys on Dec. 19.”
That’s the day Santa returns to Flanders, riding a fire truck around town, greeting local kids and collecting more toys. Last year, an ambulance following Santa was full of toys by the end of the “Santa run.” Santa is happy to visit children with special needs if parents let him know by calling (973) 584-7805.
“This is something everyone looks forward to doing all year,” said Dolan. “We all have a good time and it puts a smile on Flanders kids’ faces when Santa visits. It also helps other area kids when they get a toy through the Toys for Tots program. Many of us are parents, and we get our children involved in this charity. Some kids who rode around as Santa’s elves a few years ago now are firefighters with their own kids helping with the toy collection.”
The Flanders Fire Company #1 and Rescue Squad has driven Santa around town since the 1960s, when members escorted Santa from a local airport to a local service club’s annual Christmas meeting. The route gradually expanded to cover more of the growing town. Today, the airport is gone – it was in the area of St. Andrews Court and Wright Court -- and the event has evolved into one anticipated by local children.
“The Flanders Fire Company #1 serves the community in a variety of different ways, not just responding to calls for help,” said Doug Fenichel, president of the Association, the organization that handles the business affairs of the department. “Helping Santa is a way to have some fun and help local children. It’s another example of what our fire company is about: Neighbors helping neighbors.”
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 45 members who 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 a fire engine, a tower truck, a rescue/pumper, a brush-and-foam truck, three 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-
Doug Fenichel, APR
Flanders Fire Company #1 & Resc