When in 1983, a man named Bob Johnson launched a charity called The Spirit of Christmas, his goal was simple - to carry on a tradition that millions around the holiday season believe fervently in - to bring hope to those who are in despair even during the most joyous time of the year. Today, the Rocky View County Fire Service is continuing its own tradition by continuing the toy drive for The Spirit of Christmas. 

Justin Davidson, who has been a firefighter for 18 years and is currently working out of the Springbank Fire Station, said that the initiative started six years ago when another fellow firefighter offered the idea of having the fire department participate in a toy drive. Tyler Scott, whose grandfather had been one of the founding members of the Magic of Christmas charity, said the cause was near and dear to his heart. 

"He and I worked on it together and we really noticed a huge engagement from the firefighters and the community. Just today, we had a pickup truck, drop off toys," Davidson said. "It really means a lot for us because we're out there to help the public, but now we're really wanting the public to help us in this engagement. It's heartfelt for us to do it." 

Davidson said that because firefighters come into contact with people during some of the most traumatic moments in their life, this is the flip side of that coin - to also interact with people when they are so generous and so happy to give to a cause that is meant to bring light and love to a stranger who may be struggling during the Christmas season. 

District Fire Chief Marcus Weckesser agreed with Davidson in that the toy drive is integral to the core values of the fire department, but also the core values all the team members also hold dear to their hearts. 

"We love to see our captains, our firefighters, everybody, engaged in doing things for the community because that's what we're here for. We're a service to the community," Chief Weckesser said. "We like to make somebody's day better, whether it's helping out with a Christmas toy drive, or whether it's putting out a fire or helping them in a motor vehicle collision. Our goal is to make somebody's day better." 

When asked what Christmas means to him, Chief Weckesser said it is about strengthening the bonds of family. 

"It's growing closer together with our loved ones and enjoying the bonds that we have. As a fire service as well, we grow closer together. When it comes to everyday events that we go out on, if we are out serving the community, and we have many stations going to an event; the camaraderie and the brotherly and sisterly love that I see amongst firefighters is really heartwarming." 

Davidson said that with the returning tradition, there is also the inherent, albeit friendly competition amongst fire stations. 

"We're also noticing some really fun, friendly competition between stations. Everyone is asking each other, 'Are you going out and engaging with the community? Are you getting more than we are?' It's a little competition, but for the greater good." 

Later on, when Davidson was asked how firefighters cope with perhaps having to work during Christmas, he echoed the District Chief's words about family and said that oftentimes firefighters who are on duty during Christmas Day or otherwise, will bring their families to the fire hall. Christmas dinner is held at the hall and one lucky firefighter is dressed up as Santa Claus. 

The donations for new, unwrapped toys for children from the ages of 0 to 16 years old, are open to all residents and will continue until December 21. There are several drop-off locations throughout the County including: 

  • Balzac Fire Station 107: 291015 Rocky View Drive, Rocky View County 

  • Elbow Valley Fire Station 101: 31040 Lott Creek Drive, Rocky View County 

  • Springbank Fire Station 102: 128 MacLaurin Drive, Rocky View County 

  • Bearspaw Fire Station 103: 31211 Lochend Place, Rocky View County 

"This is the [most] festive time of the year and we want everybody to be festive and happy and to have those same feelings of joy and peace on earth and goodwill towards men. If we can help people who might be somewhat disadvantaged and help them reach the same levels of peace and goodwill as everybody else, we're happy to do so," concluded Chief Weckesser.