Covid Brings Quarantine Toys To Santa Fund

ST. JOHNSBURY - The tradition of fire fighters reaching out to the community during Christmas time will not be delayed this year, despite the rising cases of Covid-19.

St. Johnsburys Fire department has been delivering toys to its children for decades now, since the great depression. It all started in the basement of St. Johnsburys fire department, where the firefighters use to make the toys. But over the years the fire department started accepting donations from the community to help assist the need for children's toys.

Chief Jon Bouffard, of the St. Johnsbury fire department, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, still intends on doing their yearly Santa Fund. Donations have already coming in from the community, such as toys, food, and even checks.

"We started about three weeks ago, receiving checks. I sort the mail every morning, and there are usually between five and fifteen envelopes with donations from community support," Bouffard goes on to say.

Bouffard expresses that this event is a group effort. Many people from the community come together to pitch in and help the cause. Community members range from store owners, to retired police officers and firefighters.

"Many of the retired firefighters from here, or former firefighters from here will come back. Whole bunch of community members, some former law enforcement, to try and name them all, I'll miss most of them," Bouffard goes on to say.

Bouffard expresses his concerns for the Santa Fund this year, as well as his volunteers. He is also worried about how the fire department is going to deliver toys in a safe and successful manner.

Explaining that face to face delivery will not be a safe option for anyone. Bouffard is also talking about what he calls "quarantine toys."

"We are going to be quarantining toys, we'll stop taking donations at a certain point. That date has not been decided yet, because we are deciding on the end date so they can be quarantined for two weeks."

Bouffard also talks about making sure that volunteers keep properly equipped to pack food, and toys into boxes. He wants to make sure everyone is masked and ready for when they make those deliveries to the community. Those deliveries will be transitioning to door drop offs.

"We are probably not going to be doing those face to face drop offs, we will go to the door, knock, step away, put the toys down, and walk away as we see people take the toys in."

Bouffard says that families that wish to receive these donations for their children should be able to register by November 16th, the registration form should be on the Caledonian records website.

Bouffard says that the fire department usually serves up to four hundred families. Due to the hardships people are suffering from covid-19, he anticipates that the number of people registering this year will be higher than previous years. The plans moving forward is to collect donations, recieve registrations, sorting out boxes, and make new plans as the months go on until fire fighters start delivering.