MARQUETTE - Not only did some lucky kids get to pick out their Christmas presents, they chose them in the company of a firefighter.
The Marquette Township Fire Department held its annual Shop with a Firefighter program prior to Christmas for six children ranging in age from 3 months to 11 years.
The day started at the township fire hall where the older children took a tour of the facility. After the tour, the older kids went shopping to pick out clothes and other necessities as well as toys, games and art supplies. The children also chose special gifts for their parents and siblings.
These are the participants in the Shop with a Firefighter program held by the Marquette Township Fire Department prior to Christmas. Front row from left are: Mike Gregorich (holding daughter), the son and daughter of Tim and Jacquie Thomas, Emilie Gregorich (holding daughter) Hayden Schetter and Sarah Schetter. Top row from left are: Tim Thomas, Rob Cochran, Jacquie Thomas, the daughter of Tim and Jacquie Thomas, Jennifer Huetter, Janelle Ruff, Jon Wheeler, Chelsea Wallner and Mat Bourdage.
Following the shopping trip, the children and helpers enjoyed lunch at McDonald's. After being picked up by the parents, firefighters, friends and family members wrapped the presents. The gifts, as well as a food gift card, were delivered to each family before Christmas.
Rob Cochran, a fire inspector and firefighter with the township, said the fire department works through the Salvation Army to find deserving families for the program.
Through a variety of fundraisers, the Fill the Boot campaign and donations to the Shop with a Firefighter program, a total of $2,400 was raised this year, Cochran said.
"It's just a chance to give back to the community," he said.
The fire department thanked Walmart, Cliffs Natural Resources, Superior Auto (which donated the use of a van for the day), Tina and Mia Bourdage, the residents of the 500 building at Lost Creek Homes and its own members for their donations to help the six children and two families have a more memorable holiday.
"So, the community really pitched in and it was great," Cochran said.
"The Shop with a Firefighter program is a wonderful program that helps support families in need during the holidays," said Jennifer Huetter, district manager, public affairs in Michigan for Cliffs. "Cliffs has a long tradition of helping support the communities where we have operations and this program is a great example of that."
Cochran also said he's come to realize the importance of the Shop with a Firefighter program and the joy it brings to families.
"That's what Christmas is about: giving," he said.
Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.