Longboat fires up Christmas Spirit

Longboat Key Fire Department personnel deliver the gifts. Danielle Heath, Nick DiSalvo, Lou Gagliardi, Anne Lathrop, Sandi Drake, Chris Krajic and Bryan Carr.

Editor & Publisher

This year the Longboat Key Fire Department decided to do something special and sponsor a family for Christmas.

Longboat Key Police Chief Paul Dezzi said he and staff sought for a family that needed assistance during the holidays because of unexpected circumstances that had taken a toll. The department along with the Longboat Key Firefighters Association, made contact with Longboat Key and area churches and social service organizations. Through Big Brother and Big Sisters of Sarasota, a family of a single mom and her two daughters was chosen.

The Longboat Key Fire Department met with the mother to see how as a group the department could help her and the family during the holidays. It turned out the mother had been laid off earlier in the year but she had only recently found a full-time job, was working a part-time job and was also continuing her education. The mother said there was another girl staying with them through the holidays and that any assistance would be greatly appreciated since there was no money to buy any presents nor some of the necessities needed in the household.

Dezzi and his staff asked the girls who ranged in age from five to 14, what they would like to have for Christmas. One girl attends Sarasota Military Academy and the other is in Polytech working toward becoming a pediatric nurse. The girls provided a very modest list which included school uniforms, wireless speakers and drawing paper and art supplies.

True to form, the Longboat Key Fire Department staff noticed when they were at the house that there were no smoke detectors installed, so the team added three smoke detectors to the list. With the above information, the gift team sent out an email to the fire administration, the firefighters and the Longboat Key Firefighters Association and the replies were beyond expectation.

In total, Dezzi said $810 was collected.

The first purchase was an artificial tree and ornaments which were taken to the house and set up. The family helped decorate the tree together and the next day the department received a picture of the decorated tree.

Next, the staff went out and purchased all of the gifts including a Christmas dinner from Publix, tickets to the movies, and more.

In the days leading up to Christmas the gifts were delivered to each of the family members and the smoke detectors were installed and the fire department team wished the family a safe and happy holiday season.

Dezzi said everyone was touched by the positive emotions and the mother was crying with joy the entire time they were there delivering the gifts.

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