CARMEL — The Carmel Fire Department continued a five-decade-long tradition over the weekend through their Community Assistance Program.
Firefighters and community members came together to hand out clothes, food and toys to families in need.
This tradition has been going on for decades and the firefighters have made special connections throughout the years.
Carmel firefighter Tony Wilson was a recipient of the fire department's generosity years ago.
“I got a winter coat, winter hat and maybe some other small things like a small toy or something the biggest thing I remember is a little black and Red Hat that I had that I wore for years afterwards it was just it was awesome,” Wilson said. “There was a big pizza party in the Station 41 bays, and I got to see Santa.”
Wilson quickly set out to thank those who helped him and his family after he joined the Carmel Fire Department.
"I think the first week I started, I was asking around like, OK, who might have been Santa Claus? Like, was it anybody here? I remember doing this program around wintertime. We had a big pizza party. Like, do you know anything about that? And, so, I brought in the pictures and showed them all and they're like 'oh my goodness that's Captain Collins. He's a firefighter here,'" Wilson said.
“He's like I think I have a picture of me and you when I was a little kid, and I said oh you got to bring that in. And so he brought it in. We sat and talked about it for a little bit and what it meant to him, which meant a lot to me, too,” Captain Tony Collins said.
Wilson and Collins now work at the same station, on the same engine with a running joke of sitting on Santa’s lap.
Both men are glad their department continues this tradition.
“Its been a really good way for me to teach my kids that sometimes people don't get stuff for Christmas, and this is a way that we can help them still enjoy Christmas,” Wilson said.
The Christmas tradition and the jokes between this duo will continue for years to come. You can learn more about how to get involved next year here.