City Council Approves Support For Firefighter Christmas Party For Children In Transition In Reno

Reno Fire Station # 1 will bustle with creative Christmas activities for a group of downtown children on December 23, as current and retired Reno firefighters, their families and other volunteers gather to hold the firefighters annual Christmas holiday party for children in transition.

Wednesday, that special annual event received support from the Reno City Council which approved a $600.00 allocation for the party that was requested by Council Member Sharon Zadra.

The money comes from funds approved in the City's annual budget for each City Council member that may be used to support various projects throughout the community.

Last year, an estimated 300 children and family members and volunteers gathered for the special Christmas party that is annually supported by donations from local businesses, artists and various volunteers.

Invitations to attend are given to children selected by the Washoe County School District, the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Program and Pathfinders Ministry, who are primarily from Reno's downtown core area.

Past event activities for the children have included making Christmas ornaments and gifts, playing games, participating in face painting and other activities with adult role models to create a special day filled with fun, laughter and good food.

Last year, Christmas music was provided by the string band Swauger Creek with musicians from Reno and Bridgeport, California, and Santa Claus arrived on former Reno Engine #6, a 1955 American LaFrance fire engine, now privately owned, restored and provided for the event by Richard Lund.

After visiting with Santa, the children were taken to the 'toy room,' where they selected a special Christmas present and received other items from the Reno firefighters.

Reno Fire Department Battalion Chief Tami Lopes, who organizes the annual event with other Reno firefighters says, "The one-on-one companionship for the children by adult role models is one of the most valuable aspects of this annual children's Christmas party. It is a way to bring homeless and disadvantaged children in our downtown core in contact with a loving, caring adult for the day," she said.

The annual Children's Christmas party was organized by Reno firefighters in 2001, but it is not the only time firefighters help and work with the children.

Lopes notes that throughout the year Reno firefighters work with the children to provide positive experiences with adult role models, and help connect the children and their families with various services.