Santa Claus is coming to town with help from Bothell firefighters this year as local IAFF members prepare for their inaugural food and toy drive.
Currently, about nine local firefighters are decorating their truck with holiday lights in preparation for the three-week charity drive. The firefighters will spend their free time during three days over three weekends from 5-6 p.m. on Dec. 8, 14 and 21, driving through the Maywood Hills area, the Frank Love area and the Canyon Creek area, respectively.
“I worked at another fire department where we did it and it was such a great tradition I wanted to bring it here to Bothell,” firefighter Tyler Griffith said. “It is so great that we can get out and show that we’re here for the community.”
Santa will join the firefighters to collect food and toy donations to benefit Hopelink, a local nonprofit and food bank, while also interacting with the community. They plan to talk with locals and let kids tour the decked-out fire engine.
“I was driving around and trying to pick the [neighborhoods] close to school because a lot of kids walk to school so I know we’re going to be able to get a lot of interaction,” Griffith said. “That’s what’s really important, to get out there and let the kids see Santa and see our decorated fire engine.”
Griffith added they’ll be broadcasting holiday music over their PA in the style of an ice-cream truck.
The firefighters ask locals to donate non-perishable food items and new, unwrapped toys that will go to families in need.
Hopelink has locations in Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, Shoreline and Carnation. The organization serves in King and Snohomish counties with an effort to provide stability and help people gain the skills and knowledge they need to exit poverty for good.
Bothell firefighters’ donations will go toward helping these families and giving local children an extra gift for the holidays.
“They serve Kirkland and Bothell and I thought it’d be great to give back to the community we serve,” Griffith said.
This is the first year Bothell firefighters are participating in a Santa food and toy drive. Griffith has been with the department for about two years and is the lead organizer of the effort. He said he received vast support from his fellow firefighters and officials when he pitched the idea.
“I got so much support, everyone was really excited,” Griffith said. “I haven’t seen this much excitement…I know everyone at Bothell is very supportive and very excited for this to be going on this year. It’s going to be really great.”
Redmond firefighters have a well-established food and toy drive, which will run for 16 days throughout the city. Griffith hopes to grow Bothell’s drive to that level with multiple fire engines next year, more days and more locations.
Griffith added he’s most excited about the community engagement as it’s a really important way for firefighters to serve their community in their free time.
“The Bothell Fire Department stands behind its citizens and the community,” he said. “We’re very proud to be firefighters for Bothell and couldn’t be more excited to be doing these things for the community because they deserve the best and that’s what we’re going to deliver.”
This story originally appeared in the Bothell-Kenmore Reporter, a sibling paper of The Daily Herald.