GLENWOOD, Ill. - Usually when firefighters arrive on the scene, it’s to save lives and property.
But in south suburban Glenwood, firefighters are helping to rescue the holidays for more than a dozen families.
A fire engine pulled out of Glenwood Fire Station One Tuesday evening, but it wasn't headed to put out flames. Instead, it was headed to fire up some Christmas cheer for a handful of Glenwood families.
It’s a Glenwood tradition that has been going strong for decades.
On a Saturday morning earlier this month, Glenwood firefighters used their trucks and sirens to collect thousands of dollars in toys, food and other essentials from residents of the community.
"They volunteer their time to go out. They get the gifts," said Glenwood Village Administrator Brian Mitchell. "They do the wrapping, the loading, unloading. They go through the selection process. I got to say one thing, they do a fabulous job."
This year, the Glenwood Firefighters Association is delivering gifts and food to 13 Glenwood families, who are selected by the school district and local social service agencies.
Jennifer Parker welcomed the firefighters to her home Tuesday evening.
"There’s three little ones, a 12-year-old, seven-year-old and four-year-old. And they’re all really excited," said Parker.
Firefighter Charles Wood said they feel like they get more out of the program than the families do.
"You got to do what you got to do to help them out. Because you’re blessed, so you got to be a blessing to somebody else," said Wood. "Every year we get somebody, when we bring them things, they just start crying out of pure joy and happiness."
Nobody’s quite sure how the tradition started, but they do know they hope to expand it going forward.
"I am so thankful they continue to do this program year after year, and we’re going to keep bringing as much happiness as we can to these families," Mitchell said.