Big Apple firefighters play Santa in South Mississippi

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - By Doug Walker – bio | email

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - Firefighters from New York rolled into Moss Point right on time Thursday. They came in eight trucks all loaded down with toys and food, and received a heroes' welcome.

Unloading tons of toys takes some heavy equipment, not to mention a well orchestrated assembly line. So why are the firemen here for the sixth year in a row?

"They feel a need to pay back because so many people went to New York and helped after 9/11," said Charles Green with the Mississippi Santa Foundation. "And even though we're nine years out from 9/11, they're still paying back."

This special delivery of holiday cheer has a bigger meaning for some, including Priscilla Edwards with the Head Start program in Jackson County.

"When they come down and do this for our children and for the community, it really gets you in the spirit of the true meaning of the holiday season," Edwards said.

These firefighters first appeared after Hurricane Katrina to help in our recovery.  Then, of course, came the recession and the Gulf oil spill, and the need stayed strong.

"The need seems to have increased because of the oil spill," said retired firefighter Tom O'Connor. "So the same people that got hit by Katrina are now dealing with the oil spill and we were told there's still a need, so we were able to fill up the trucks and we came back down."

Despite the long drive and the hard work to make this event happen, the volunteers wouldn't have it any other way.

"To see the looks on the kids' faces makes it all worthwhile," fireman Jim Jacobs said.  "They're happy and we're happy to make them happy."

The toys will be distributed Saturday morning at several locations, listed below. There are a few rules: Children must be ten or under, and they have to be present to get a toy. Toys are given on a first come, first serve basis. Children will receive a book and small toy of their choice.

Toy Distribution Times/Locations

Gulfport: 8am - Noon
First Presbyterian Church of Gulfport (Gymnasium)
10885 Oneal Rd, Gulfport

Biloxi: 9am - Noon
Nativity BVM Elementary School (Gymnasium)
1046 Beach Blvd, Biloxi

Moss Point: 9am - Noon
Jackson County Civic Action Head Start Center
39563 Jefferson Street, Moss Point

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