Photo by Dave Warner – (L-R) Alex Palmer, LFPD, Special Agent Eric Cotter, CSX Police Department, Sgt Justin Dibble, LFPD, and Chief Ron Petrie, LFPD stand by the pallet of gifts donated by The First Responders Children’s Foundation Toy Express.

The First Responders Children’s Foundation Toy Express, is a program that will help spread joy to children across the country during the 2020 holiday season. They will deliver more than 250,000 free toys and masks to first responder agencies and hospitals which will then distribute the holiday cheer to children of first responders and to children in first responder communities.  Every child will also receive a mask with their toy.

A pallet of toys was offloaded in front of the Little Falls Fire Department as part of their deliveries and Chief Ron Petrie stated, “After an investigation last month on the CSX property, I met an officer with the CSX Police, Eric Cotter.  During our conversation, he relayed information about the First Responder Children’s Foundation Toy Express and provided me with an application to requests gifts for the holiday. We submitted our application soon after and today we received a pallet filled with enough toys to supply a gift to 50 different kids in our community.”

“With the difficult holiday many families are facing, we are thankful to CSX and the First Responders Children’s Foundation for their donation to our community and we are hopeful some families will have a happier Christmas because of their generosity,” said Petrie.

“We’re saying happy holidays and thank you to the heroic first responders who show up when we dial 911,” said Jillian Crane, President of First Responders Children’s Foundation.  “Toy Express will help make a happy holiday for the children of our first responders which include nurses, firefighters, police officers, EMTs, paramedics, medical personnel, and 911 dispatchers.  Our first responders are on the frontlines of the pandemic, and they continue to risk their own health every day in selfless service to their local communities across the country.  So, please help us help them.  You can send toys & masks at 1stRCF.org or by texting TOY to 24-365.”

First Responders Children’s Foundation established the Toy Express with a generous toy donation worth more than $1,000,000 in retail value from Mattel and American Girl including 5,000 signature 18” American Girl dolls and more than 45,000 in other Mattel products such as Hot Wheels®, Barbie® and Mega Bloks®. Additional sponsors include CSX, Good360, Hess Toy Truck, Jakks Pacific, MaskUSA.com, and Toys for Tots.  In addition, generous individuals across the nation are helping bring holiday cheer to first responder families by making donations of toys and money. Transportation of toys and masks across the country is coordinated and provided by Total Quality Logistics (TQL) and their Moves that Matter program.

First Responders Children’s Foundation began in the wake of 9/11 when Founder and Chairman, Alfred R. Kahn, hosted the first annual Thanksgiving Day Parade Breakfast just weeks after the 9/11 attacks.  That year, more than 800 children and family members of first responders lost in the line of duty were invited to watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade from private, front-row viewing which began an annual tradition of welcoming devastated first responder families into a supportive environment to face the challenges of the start of a holiday season without a loved one.  19 years later, the Foundation continues to support the families of first responders across the country with critical assistance including college scholarships and financial grants including paying for funeral bills of first responders who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their community.  During the 2020 pandemic, the Foundation has assisted more than 677,638 first responders through its COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund.  This holiday season, First Responders Children’s Foundation’s Toy Express will help provide cheer and happiness to children and families of first responders.

About First Responders Children’s Foundation

For almost 20 years, First Responders Children’s Foundation has been providing college scholarships to the children of first responder parents who have been injured or lost in the line of duty. The Foundation also awards grants to families enduring significant financial hardship and supports, promotes, and facilitates educational activities and programs created and operated by first responder organizations to benefit children or the communities in which they live. The First Responders Children’s Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund was established in March 2020 to provide financial hardship grants, PPE, and hotel accommodations to first responders on the front lines of the pandemic. The Foundation also pays for funerals of first responders who have made the ultimate sacrifice. More information about First Responders Children’s Foundation is available at www.1stRCF.org. Follow First Responders Children’s Foundation on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @1stRCF.