COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Since 1977, the Firefighters 4 Kids Toy Drive has grown from a grassroots effort to one of the largest toy donations in central Ohio.

“My biggest thing is, if I can see a parent smile picking up toys, or a kid smile, or knowing that they’re going to smile, that’s what it’s about for me,” said Dale Miller, a retired captain with the Upper Arlington Fire Department. “That makes my day, it makes my year.”

Miller is one of the first firefighters to have taken part in the toy drive. The event is organized by retired firefighter Mike Mullins, who began the initiative out of his own garage

“I took them down, this was 44 years ago, and gave them to Mike and he asked me, what are you doing tomorrow? I said, I don’t know. He said, well come on down and give me a hand. And, 44 years later, I’m still down here giving him a hand,” said Miller.

Other firefighters part of the event said it’s something they never get tired of.

“I did it one year, and I love it, and I keep coming back because I love doing this,” said Doug Smith, a retired spokesperson with the Columbus Division of Fire.

The experience is not only a joy for the kids, but also the firefighters.

“It’s a special bond firefighters have, and even some of the people that aren’t firefighters come down, we’ve got to know them. And firefighters are one big family, and we actually look forward to being with one another,” said Miller.