I've recently stumbled across vital information that everyone in town should know: Years ago, Santa went through his naughty-and-nice list and cross-referenced it with firefighters (for all of you doubters out there, the North Pole database is very sophisticated because Santa's nothing if not up with the times). This data search yielded some awe-inspiring results. Turns out, every member of the Westport Fire Department was on the nice list.
So, with the signature twinkle in his eye, he called the reindeer and took a clandestine trip to Westport to get some one-on-one time with Assistant Chief of Training Brett Kirby, and others.
Santa got straight to the point: he needed to get the spirit meter higher. Westport had been showing some dips, and he wanted to address the problem straight on.
Within no time, a plan was hatched.
Sleighs were exchanged for fire engines. Elves were swapped out for professional firefighters. And because Santa can’t make it to Westport in December (no shame there - it's a busy prep time on the toy manufacturing floor), he sent a representative to stand in his place.
The Westport Santa Run was a GO and has been a holiday favorite for nine years!
For six nights in December, firefighter elves volunteer to accompany Santa’s firefighter stand-in throughout town, delivering gifts to families. Families and neighbors sign up for a visit and make a $35 donation per child (or more if they're feeling merry). Parents leave small gifts outside for the firefighter elves to grab on the way to the front door to deliver to the children.
“The memories for our family are priceless, and we love knowing we are supporting the amazing work of the fire department,” says Westport resident and mom Lindsay Groher.
The donations support the Westport Uniformed Firefighters Charitable Foundation (WUFCF). "We are firefighters trying to give back to the community in the best way that we can,” says the foundation's President, Rob Lenois. “Everything we do is done on volunteer time, and all of the money we collect goes right back to the community. This is all a labor of love.”
Over the years, the foundation has given to many different organizations and initiatives, from The Hole in the Wall Gang to the CT Children's Hospital for children with cancer.
Currently, they have two key charitable goals: 1. provide bed shaker smoke alarms to everyone in town with a hearing impairment, and 2. get every firefighter in Westport a cancer screening - vitally important, as cancer is considered an occupational hazard and early detection is everything.
“I'm extremely proud of the members of the Westport Fire Department. Firefighters have a certain sense of altruism; they embody a giving spirit. This initiative reflects that spirit,” shares Deputy Fire Chief Nick Marsan.
The magic of the Santa Run is in the little noses pressed against windows, waiting earnestly. The look of wonder as tiny humans watch firefighters visit their neighborhoods. Most importantly, it inspires us as a community to care for each other and give back whenever possible.
“[These nights] single-handedly [bring] the magic of a small-town feel literally inside your home,” says Westport mom Angela Puccetti. “We look forward to the generous hearts of the Westport Fire Department each year and have created small family traditions around this night since our move to Westport. We are so lucky and grateful to have this type of community engagement.”
As if it couldn’t get any better, the firefighter team also partners with Westport’s Human Services to provide a central location for families that could benefit from an evening filled with the holiday spirit who might not otherwise have a chance to participate. A generous local firm donates gifts, pizzas and snacks, a decorated Christmas tree. And the Santa team is the main attraction - a joyous and festive evening.
Needless to say, Santa is pleased with the results. He'll still be doing his yearly run on December 24th, but he knows in the interim, we’re in no better hands than the Westport Fire Department!
If you’d like to learn more about the Santa Run or be on the email list to register, email email@example.com. For more information about the foundation please visit WUFCF.org.
“The memories for our family are priceless, and we love knowing we are supporting the amazing work of the fire department.” - Westport resident and mom Lindsay Groher.