NYC firefighters spread cheer in South Mississippi

By Michelle Lady email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - After the outpouring of help these firefighters say the received after 9/11 they felt compelled to give back, and that's what they continue to do year after year since Hurricane Katrina.

Hundreds of children happily collected their free gifts at the Gaston Point Community center in West Gulfport on Saturday.

After making his list and checking it twice, Santa found out there were many good kids in South Mississippi this year so he sent several of his helpers to deliver Christmas a little early.

"Just bringing a little New York sunshine down to Mississippi," New York City Firefighter Jim Jacobs said with a big smile on his face and a thick New York accent.

They collected trucks of toys, books, stuffed animals and delivered them to thousands of children along the Gulf Coast. Under this Santa Claus costume, there is a New York Firefighter doing what he does best.

"Anything we can do to help out that is what we do at our job on a regular basis so this is just another way of doing it," said retired NYC Firefighter Jimmy Lanza.

Although Lanza has hung up his hat, he still suits up for the holiday season.

"To actually see the kids smile and clap and some of them cry, it makes you feel good, and you get a little laugh and a smile. And it lifts everybody up," Lanza said. "If you can make someone's Christmas a lot better, it's a nice thing to do."

Ginger Terry said these men are a big relief to people like her family who can use the help.

"They are still opening their wallets, their homes, their income, their hearts for our children here, and we greatly appreciate that," terry said.

We will have a much better one [Christmas] with help like these people are giving us.

One dad agrees, during these tough times, it's nice to know people still care.

"That means a lot to me. It tells me they outreach beyond their call of duty to help people that need it," said Christopher Barmer.

And the parents aren't the only ones who are thankful. The kids were excited and filled with the Christmas spirit!

Gifts were distributed at four locations in South Mississippi and also one in Alabama.

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