WEST CHESTER – Recently, the First West Chester Fire Company (FWCFC) brought Christmas magic to life for three families at Hillsdale Elementary School. This is the second year in a row that the FWCFC and the West Chester Area School District (WCASD) Hillsdale Elementary have teamed up to brighten the spirits of those in need of a little zest for life.
In 2020, following a move to virtual meetings for FWCFC members and active crew, Andy Rongaus, President of Station 51, noticed that there was unused meeting funds totaling $ 1,800 still available. Rongaus decided to use the funds to give back to the community and reached out to Paige Merten, principal of Hillsdale Elementary School, to ask her to adopt one of the school’s families for the holidays.
The sheer joy that Rongaus and the members of the FWCFC saw on the children’s faces when they delivered beautifully wrapped gifts last December inspired them to add more stops to Santa’s route this year.
“After such a great experience last year, we decided to double our impact and adopt two families for the holidays,” said Rongaus. “However, once we offered our members the option to donate extra money to purchase each family’s needs and wishes, we quickly realized that their generosity enabled us to add another family to the list. from Santa Claus. “
As the sun set on Christmas Eve, Santa Claus, elves, FWCFC volunteers and staff at Hillsdale Elementary School filled the FWCFC fire truck with bikes, toys and more and more. left to surprise the first of the three families.
“My children were so happy to see their gifts; their expression was priceless, ”the mother of one of the adoptive families was deeply moved by the time and thoughtfulness of all those who helped make her children’s Christmas special. “A few weeks ago, I didn’t know how I was going to give my children a Merry Christmas, and thanks to the volunteers, the firefighters and the school, they had the best Christmas ever”, a- she added.
Merten loved watching this partnership grow and knows how special it is to be able to celebrate times like these and support the community.
“There really is no better way to experience the true spirit of Christmas than to participate in deliveries and see the excitement and joy of families,” said Merten. “I know it has helped these families feel a part of our Hillsdale community and know that we care about each other.”
“It’s all about the kids and our community,” Rongaus said, echoing Merten’s sentiment. “When families and their children see Santa Claus get off the fire truck to deliver their gifts, it’s such a rewarding moment. “
In addition to the $ 2,500 raised to purchase gifts and essentials for families, the FWCFC also donated to the West Chester Food Cupboard. The First West Chester Fire Company is one of three 100 percent volunteer fire companies that make up the West Chester Fire Department. Station 51 is located on South Bradford Avenue and West Miner Street in the Township of East Bradford.