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Delivering happiness: DMFD charity donates toys to hospitalized children

12/23/2015

Elizabeth Medora
Staff

NORTH VALLEY – Sometimes Santa doesn’t arrive in a sleigh. For local children who are in the hospital, Santa arrived in a fire truck this year.

At Christmastime, the Daisy Mountain Firefighters Association holds a toy drive and collects items to distribute to local hospitals and to local kids in need. Thanks to employee contributions and community donations, toys of all kinds are given to community kids and hospitalized children in need. Toys also are given to local hospitals to be handed out all year long to kids who come in to the hospital sick and scared, and need the comforting distraction of a fun new toy. Each year, over 15,000 toys are brought in.

Each year, the non-profit Daisy Mountain Firefighters Association adopts local families in need. The charity collects gift cards for meals and shopping, toys, and other donations for these families. All the surplus toys go to Maricopa Integrated Health, Arizona Children’s Center, and HonorHealth hospitals, including Mendy’s Place.

Christmas toys get a special delivery to kids in need. Volunteers bring a fire truck to the hospitals, as well as a 26-foot truck full of toys. For five years, Daisy Mountain Fire Department Battalion Chief Dave Jensen has brought the spirit of Santa to hospitalized kids. Dressed as Santa, Jensen brings each child a toy and shares holiday cheer to kids who wouldn’t otherwise get to see Santa.

“We go through the hospital, and we look for every child who we can,” Jensen said, noting that the children can be patients, siblings of children who are patients – any child who is at the hospital and needs some Christmas cheer.

Jensen described the Daisy Mountain Firefighters Association as a “year-round charity.” Through employee donations and fundraisers like the Ignite the Night banquet, the non-profit provides support to local families. The fire district doesn’t fund the Association; the charity operates on employee contributions of time and money. All employee contributions are voluntary – approximately 100 percent of DMFD employees contribute to the Association’s good work.

“We give out what we call grants,” Jensen said, noting that the Firefighters Association gives these grants to community members who have lost a family member, had a family tragedy of some kind, or suffered illness.

Daisy Mountain Fire employees are a valuable part of the community, on and off the clock. But the firefighters don’t seek out acclaim for their good works, and they give credit to volunteers throughout the community.

DMFD Station #141 firefighter Jon Binsbacher noted “what a great community” DMFD serves.

“None of this would be possible if it weren’t for so many selfless people in this community,” Binsbacher said.

“The community is wonderful about volunteering,” Jensen emphasized. The Home Depot in Tramonto donates the use of a delivery truck to transport toys, the Outlets at Anthem gives the Association an empty storefront to store and organize toys before the delivery, and the Walmart in Anthem has given the Association an open invitation to collect toys there each year.  Volunteers from each hospital also pitch in with the toy drive and help store and distribute toys.

Jensen noted that the Sonoran Health and Emergency Center near Dove Valley and the I-17 gets a donation of toys, too. That way, if a sick child comes in to the ER there, they can choose a toy. Children who come in with a sick parent can also get a toy so they have something to do while they wait.

“They’re able to use our toys throughout the year to benefit children who have to come in for painful treatments,” Jensen said, referring to the hospitals to which the Association donates. “They use our toys all throughout the year to benefit the children.”

“I really believe that there’s a trust,” Jensen said of the community’s support. “We don’t take any of the money and pay anyone.” Everything donated goes right back to families in need in the community.

Christmas is all about sharing happiness and cheer. Thanks to the good works of the Daisy Mountain Firefighters Association, the spirit of Christmas has reached hundreds of children across the Valley.

Learn more about the Daisy Mountain Firefighters Association at Firefighterscharities.org.