Seeing the look of joy in young children’s eyes is all Rich Seguine needs.
Seguine and fellow members of the San Mateo Firefighters’ Association are embarking on another holiday season with the Toys for Tots program, collecting and distributing gifts for underprivileged youth.
But this year is especially tough, Seguine said, because of the increasing number of parents and families in need as a result of the slow economy.
“We see the need every day,” said Seguine, who chairs the department’s Toys for Tots committee. “This economy’s really tough. There are a lot of new families asking for help.”
The need is one reason the San Mateo Fire Department is expanding its efforts to collect as many toys as it can to give to needy families. In addition to the booth firefighters and volunteers will man at Hillsdale Shopping Center this month, the department is putting together toy collection contests at city schools.
“The school that collects the most toys wins,” he said.
San Mateo Park, Sunnybrae and Highlands elementary schools are participating.
Seguine said the department has organized the Toys for Tots drive for the past 30 years. He said thousands of toys have been distributed, though he did not have an exact number.
Nancy Carothers, spokeswoman for the Samaritan House — a nonprofit serving low-income families — said thousands of the toys
collected by the Fire Department have helped dozens of families.
“They are just wonderful during the holidays,” she said.
Carothers said there has been an increase in demand of services offered by Samaritan House. The toys the Fire Department provides give children who normally wouldn’t get gifts a bright smile.
“And they usually come around the time we are running short,” Carothers said. “They make such a difference.”
Season of giving
Where to donate toys now through Dec. 23:
Hillsdale Shopping Center, 60 31st Ave., San Mateo
Any of the five fire stations in San Mateo:
Station 21, 120 S. Ellsworth Ave.
Station 23, 31 W. 27th Ave.
Station 24, 319 S. Humboldt St.
Station 25, 545 Barneson St.
Station 26, 1500 Marina Court
Station 27, 1801 De Anza Blvd.
Source: City of San Mateo