Heather Nyberg-Schlotzhauer

Beacon Correspondent

It is hard to believe it is that time of year again, but the bells are starting to ring in the Friendly City of Fortuna as the Fortuna Volunteer Fire Department readies their fire truck sleigh to bring cheer to the community.

The Santa's Sleigh program conducted by the Fortuna Volunteer Fire Department Company 2 has been serving the community since 1987. This 26-year project is made possible by the continued support of the Eel River Valley.

Last year the program collected new jackets for families in the community, but this year they are on a mad dash for brand new hooded sweatshirts. Fast responders 9-year-old Emma Foley and 5-year-old Sydnee Foley have been working hard throughout the year and raised $160 for the holiday project buying 17 sweatshirts to donate to the FVFD Santa's Sleigh Program.

The Foley sisters raised money on National Lemonade Day and during the recent Fortuna Apple Harvest. Although they were disappointed in their numbers this year they shared, “We are very excited and happy about helping families again.”

FVFD is looking for donations still and welcomes the communities help to continue to provide a happy holiday to those who are struggling this year to provide for their own. The Santa's Sleigh Service Program will serve about 100 families and 200 children this year in three phases.


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Phase one will rock down Christmas Lane to over 30 homes where children are disabled or have special needs and are unable to go out to see Santa at the mall. These children will get a special one-on-one visit with Santa, a teddy bear, and a candy cane.

Phase two will bring out the red velvet attire of Mr. and Mrs. Claus who will visit the Fortuna senior care homes where each resident will receive a stuffed animal, a candy cane, but most importantly an abundance of love. These seniors have so much history, love and joy to share, but often they are over looked as they do not get out in the community at this stage in their lives.

The third and final phase touches the lives of families in the community who would as FVFD states, “Not have Christmas.” This is where the hard work of young individuals like the Foley sisters comes into play. The sweatshirts they provided will go to children in these homes along with a toy and a very generous box of holiday meal fixings. Little faces will light up as Santa, Mrs. Claus and their elf helpers arrive in Santa's fire truck sleigh on Christmas Eve Day.

The FVFD is looking for monetary donations at this stage in the program, but would welcome any and all support. Sweatshirts are for boys and girls from birth to high school and should be brand new with hoods.

If you would like to light up a little face this holiday season and provide the tools for a family to sit down to a special Christmas dinner. Donations can be sent to P.O. Box 860, Fortuna, CA 95540. For more information you can contact Lon Winburn at 725-6921, Alandra Gatty at 725-8707, or Dave Ansley at 725-5023.

photo caption:

Photo by Heather Nyberg-Schlotzhauer/Beacon

The Fortuna Volunteer Fire Department Company 2 Santa Sleigh Service received their first large donation of sweatshirts from repeat supporters Emma (9) and Sydnee (5) Foley pictured here with their mother and toy drive coordinator Nicole Foley (Back left to right), clothing coordinator Pam Bery, Santa Claus, route coordinator Ricky Ruud, treasurer and Company 2 Captain Michael Ransford, and FVFD Chief Lon Winburn.