Osceola County’s professional fire services formed more than 30 years ago, providing excellent fire suppression, rescue and emergency medical services to residents, visitors, and businesses alike. During nearly that entire time, Colleen Holborn has also helped County fire crews provide another much-needed service: toys for children who need it most during the holidays.

Since 1991, Holborn, who retired from service in 2019 at the rank of Lieutenant, continues to coordinate donations of toys through local churches, supporters, and the charitable non-profit formed by Osceola County’s local professional firefighters, the Osceola FD Benevolent, to provide gifts for the holidays. The event back then was known as “A Firefighter’s Christmas,” and provided gifts for one family in need in its first year. Since then, Lt. Holborn and her program have worked to help more and more deserving families to celebrate the holidays with gifts. Having fire stations closed to the public this year during the pandemic made toy collection an especially difficult task, but Osceola’s professional firefighters have done their best to help as many as they could.

Recently, Osceola Fire Rescue crews made visits to Osceola High School and to Liberty High School, with a certain jolly, bearded elf riding in to greet children himself.

At Osceola High School, Battalion 4 and the crew of Engine 43 from nearby Campbell City joined with members of the Kissimmee Police Department and the high school’s student group Latinos in Action, led by teacher Sophie Irizarry. For the second year, the partnership was able to provide toys for young children at local elementary schools and in the nearby community.

At Liberty High School, crews from Ladder 64 stationed on Pleasant Hill Road, brought Santa to visit with special needs students and a class of pre-K students, bringing Christmas cheer to all.

With health and safety in the time of COVID-19 a top concern, this year’s toy distribution events were much smaller in scale, and took place in a drive-thru format or outside where possible.

And of course, Santa and his helpers were sure to wear their masks.

Would you or your business like to help bring holiday cheer to the child of a family in need through a charitable donation? Reach out to Osceola FD Benevolent at info@osceolafdbenevolent.org.