Santa’s beyond famous for giving gifts.
This week, when he rolls through Gig Harbor’s neighborhoods, he and his helpers will be collecting gifts.
As Santa rides on a 35,000-pound fire truck, its lights shining and sirens whooping, firefighters dressed in Christmas gear will greet residents and collect canned food and toy donations for the FISH Food Bank.
They’ll be out from 5-8:30 each evening, starting Monday (Dec. 3) and ending Friday (Dec. 7).
“It’s awesome,” prevention specialist Tina Curran said. “People love it. Even if they are not interested in the donation process, the families love having Santa roll through their neighborhoods on a fire engine.”
The visits have become a tradition for many families, she said. They know when the fire truck is coming and have their donations ready for local families in need.
“We give a ‘honk honk’ and ‘Santa’s coming! Santa is here!’” Curran said. “Kids and families will come out of their house and greet Santa. We’ve done it long enough that a lot of citizens know this is a time to donate toys and canned food to the FISH food bank.”
Red collection barrels will be placed around the city so anyone who missed Santa can donate to the food bank. Donations also are accepted at FISH, 4425 Burnham Drive.
The firefighters look forward to the event, where they can meet and engage with the community they serve, Curran said.
“The nature of firefighters is to be natural helpers,” she said. “They love giving back to their community. A few of them really get into it and dress up as elves and such.”
One of those is Ben Olmstead, who’s been involved with the event for about seven years. This is his second year running the program, which he does from what’s known as Santa Command.
Last year, he said, firefighters collected a trailer full of canned food and toys.
“The people are always very happy and very thankful,” Olmstead said. “It’s been a staple in this community for quite some time. It’s a good way to connect with the community and them to connect with us.”
The schedule of Santa’s visits and the locations of collection barrels can be found at https://gigharborfire.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/SantaRun.pdf