Cohoes firefighters deliver gifts to local kids

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Cohoes firefighters carried on a 40-year tradition of delivering gifts to local kids on Christmas Eve. The ‘Cheer for Children’ program brought Santa around the neighborhood in a fire truck.

Firefighters of IAFF Local 2562, also known as Santa’s elves, say this is a way for them to help families in a different way than usual—in emergency situations.

Friday night, Santa suited up and set out from the North Pole’s outpost in Cohoes, the fire department’s central fire house. He greeted kids all over town with presents from the Cheer for Children program.

“When they see a firetruck, they just go to the window, and so on and so forth. They don’t really comprehend a lot to it. But if Santa is on the truck, they know,” said one of the elves who chairs the program, Jack Daigneault.

Daigneault says the community helps the department identify a handful of families for whom to buy toys. The program helps local kids all year, not just at Christmas, giving out toys to kids in the area who lose their homes in a fire.

“In our field, we see people in need. But emergency need, whether it’s a fire, or whether it’s EMS, or a car accident,” explained Daigneault.

This year, Santa and his elves are able to pay a visit inside and witness the kids opening their gifts, unlike 2020, when they could only drop off gifts.

“It’s just a great feeling for me, for all the members of the department, and even the parents have said, ‘This is great, I never expected this,’” he said.

One family says the toys brought Christmas magic at a time of struggle.

“This is wonderful, especially for families, I mean we’re all going through a lot right now with the pandemic, and I think it’s really great for everybody to pause and for them to do this for the kids,” said Amy Willette, whose kids received presents Friday.

Last year, the cheer for children program helped more than 300 kids.