New York City firemen deliver Christmas cheer once again

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX)-What began as a post-Katrina relief mission has evolved into a holiday labor of love. For the fourth year, New York City firefighters delivered truck loads of Christmas toys and goodies to South Mississippi.

The generous holiday visitors with the New York accents arrived in Jackson County early Thursday afternoon.

Christmas cheer from the Big Apple arrived in a parade of Penske trucks loaded with toys and goodies. New York City firefighters decked in Santa hats enjoyed a warm welcome from Head Start children.

The kids sang "Jingle Bells" and other songs to their special guests, who quickly got down to business, unloading the trucks.

Many of these New York firefighters have made this Christmas trek to the Deep South before. Fireman Tom O'Conner organized the first trip; a relief mission right after Katrina.

"He first came down with supplies right after the storm. And then started with the toy drive. And a bunch of us got together and decided to help him out. And it's led to this massive turnout we have today," said fireman Richard O'Leary.

"You can bring that pallet over, put 'em right on the pallet there," barked one of the firemen, helping unload.

"It's really important that these people know we haven't forgotten them. And it's important for the kids, 'cause that's what Christmas is all about," said fireman Kirk Lester.

The cold weather this year should have made these New York visitors feel right at home. But they weren't about to take blame for the frigid blast.

"No, this isn't our fault. This is coming from the South. It's warmer in New York than it is here," said fireman Kerry Hollywood.

This fourth annual New York to South Mississippi Christmas connection is the biggest yet.

"It expanded. This year we're going to four different locations. And it's nice. Something we look forward to doing. It's become like a holiday tradition for us right now," said organizer Tom O'Connor.

That tradition brings Christmas joy to thousands of needy children in South Mississippi.