Hundreds of families waited for hours in the parking lot of the New Light Christian Center in NE Houston for a chance to pick up toys to wrap and put under the tree for their kids to open.
Shante Holman didn’t mind waiting.
“I have three, I have three kids.”
Hernandez: “Seems like your smile is almost as big as the kids!”
Holman: “I know, anything for my kids is alright (laughter), so it’s fun. I’ve been here for a while, since 7 o’clock this morning.”
In fact, the line began forming Thursday evening, with men, women and children taking part in Operation Stocking Stuffer, the annual toy drive of the Houston Fire Department.
This is fire Capt Roy Lozano:
“This year’s one of our biggest campaigns the Houston Fire Department has. This is the actual giveaway, and we’re really excited because this year we’re having epic proportions. The quantity of toys donated has been huge, and the quantity of kids that we’re able to give toys to is gonna be huge, so this is a great time of year for us.”
Hernandez: “By the quantity of toys, how many are we talking about?”
Lozano: “I think we’re estimating close to 300,000 individual pieces of toys. That’s an astronomical number, but I know it sounds far-fetched, but if you look at our rooms, when you gotta have a room just for stuffed animals, I guarantee you we’re hitting those numbers.”
He says every fire station in Houston was an intake for the toy drive, now in its 23rd season.
“For the last month, the generosity of the Houston public has been phenomenal, and they’ve been bringing in these toys to the point that we needed to make multiple trips every day, to pick up these toys in truck beds. We sorted them all out, gender, age group, everything, and hopefully we’re gonna give everybody a toy for Christmas.”
Shantell Essex says thanks to Capt. Lozano and other firefighters, her four kids will have a present to open on Christmas Day.
“I’m kinda glad, because at first we weren’t gonna have a Christmas. So this is a blessing for us.”
Lozano: “The satisfaction we have is when we have that child come in here, you see their face light up. And we know as Houston firefighters, by going into the homes, by making our runs, that not everybody gets Christmas. Houston firefighters, they’re on their own time, and a lot of them bring their children to teach them lessons that we need to be thankful for what we have, and help those that are less fortunate.”