With the help of some local firefighters, a little Christmas magic made it to Shriners Hospital today, where Santa Claus arrived for an early visit in a fire truck filled with gifts.
“It was fantastic,” said Dennis Costin, a district fire chief and president of the Boston Firefighters Burn Foundation. “They’ll thank us, but we get back 10 times more than anything we give.”
For the past nine years, the foundation — a group of local firefighters who volunteer to help burn victims and their families — has been visiting children who are receiving pediatric burn care at Shriners Hospitals for Children-Boston and distributing gifts to them during the holiday season. The firefighters also surprise the children in July for a special “Christmas in July” event.
On Tuesday, Santa rose to the 7th floor outside of the hospital building on Blossom Street in a bucket from Boston Fire’s Tower Ladder 3 truck and waved to the children unable to leave their rooms in the burn unit, Costin said. Santa and his elves then descended from the ladder and met the children and their families inside, and handed out presents.
Santa, who is actually a fire lieutenant at the Egleston Square station, also gave T-shirts and Christmas ornaments to those in the outpatient clinic and to the hospital’s staff.
The families then met up with the the firefighters, who served everyone two enormous cakes and several gallons of ice cream, Costin said.
“This is a big tradition at Shriners,” Costin said. “After the kids get their presents, we then receive a wish list of what they need for their recreation room.”
The firefighters will return in a few days to bring anything and everything the children need for the room, including iPads, ink for printers, video games, and material for crafts.
In addition to helping the children, the foundation also provides families with winter clothing, since many of them are from outside of the United States and are not prepared for the harsh New England winters, Costin said.
The foundation spends the year fundraising by selling ornaments, receiving donations from the firefighters.
The firefighters also make rounds to Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s hospitals.