COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Instead of patients, you’ll find presents loaded onto ambulances from the Columbus Division of Fire for the 45th annual Firefighters 4 Kids Toy Drive.
“We’re collecting every day, from now through Christmas, at any Franklin County fire station, and we pick up from those stations basically every day,” said Mike Mullins, founder of the Firefighters 4 Kids Toy Drive.
Mullins is a former Columbus firefighter who was with the department for nearly 30 years. He said they bag up toys for kids of all ages, but said the hardest gifts to find are for those 10 and up.
“They’re more expensive things, and usually electronics and stuff like that, but we give what we, whatever we get in, we pass out,” Mullins said.
However, this event has become a special experience for many of the volunteers, including Meaka Ashley. He’s a retired firefighter who went through several Christmases without a gift as a child.
“I was one of those families,” he said. “I had to walk probably about three miles to go and get it, but you’re in need, you do what you’ve got to do.”
That is why being a part of the toy drive is such a rewarding feeling for him; he knows what many of these families go through during the holidays.
“And when you see those smiles on the faces of the kids, and not just the kids, but the pressure that it takes off the parents, you know, to be able to provide something for them, that’s what we’re here for,” Ashley said.
The toys will be donated at Westland Mall, starting Dec. 13 and the event will run through Christmas. Altogether, they’re expecting to serve about 360 families a day.
NBC4 will team up with the Firefighters 4 Kids drive with a special donation event Saturday, Dec. 10, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at CAS, 2540 Olentangy River Road, Columbus. For more information on the event, click here.