|Published:||Dec 18, 2012 8:22 PM EST|
|Updated:||Dec 18, 2012 9:17 PM EST|
"I usually don't celebrate Christmas until five years ago, now I just see the importance of it for the kids," said Erna Milien.
And thanks to the community's help, Erna Milien is able to give her children a Christmas. The mother of five works 10 hours a day and her Christmas tree is bare.
"Right now, I don't have anything under the tree they keep asking me, 'Mommy, mommy, there's nothing under the tree. So that means we're not going to have anything for Christmas this year?'"
Her family is like hundreds who rely on the East Naples Fire Department for presents. Rich Gibbons started the toy drive in the 1970's.
"I like kids. And back then we had, like we have now, kids that didn't get anything for Christmas," said Gibbons.
Decades later, the need continues to grow.
"The toys are a little down from past years, but you know that's kind of expected, the need is higher. It's tougher for everybody to give, but we're still making it, we're still getting through," said Deputy Chief Nick Biondo.
This year, the fire fighters will help 1,200 kids. And if they run out of toys donated from people and businesses in the community, Deputy Chief Nick Biondo said they will reach into their own budget.
"You can tell they really need it," said Deputy Chief Biondo.
"Thank god for here, cause there's plenty here I would not be able to afford to buy. Thank god," said Milien.