For the past several years, Lawrence Mayor Steve Collier has visited first responders on Christmas Day. Last month was no different, as Collier stopped by Station 38 of the Lawrence Fire Dept. on Christmas morning to deliver homemade food and snacks to firefighters on duty.
“In what has become a tradition that Chris (Collier’s wife) and I look forward to each year, (LFD) Chief (Dino) Batalis accompanied us to our firehouses and LPD headquarters to personally thank each of them for spending their Christmas working for the citizens of Lawrence,” Collier said. “Far too often, we forget that our first responders don’t really get to spend this holiday with their family.”
Batalis also visited the city’s first responders. Batalis headed the Lawrence Firefighters Family Assistance Program for the 38th year. The program helped 800 children in the city receive new toys for Christmas and provided fresh donated food for families for Christmas dinner. Many of the toys were donated thanks to sponsored events by the Lawrence Greater Chamber of Commerce, while food was purchased from monetary donations from the public.
Ryan Mack, an LFD firefighter, said working Christmas wasn’t all bad because of the camaraderie and friendship the team shares.
“It’s nice because it really didn’t feel as bad as it could have,” Mack said. “The guys all celebrated together by cooking or bringing in food, so it helped us forget about the family gatherings and celebrations we missed out on.”