FAO Schwarz, Association of Uniformed Firefighters showers children of dead firefighters with toys – CBS New York
NEW YORK (CBSNew York) – FAO Schwarz and the Uniformed Firefighters Association helped bring holiday cheer Sunday to the children of fallen firefighters.
As CBS2’s Christina Fan reported, 50 kids and their families were treated to a full day of fun.
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Joy overflowed from the back of a fire truck in front of FAO Schwarz, where Santa Claus, the FDNY Hot Dog mascot and toy soldiers brought smiles to widows and their children, fulfilling a promise made to their fallen heroes
“We thank you very much for coming and participating in this. You make our day more than we do yours, ”said Andrew Ansbro, President of UFA.
For 40 years, the union has offered smiles to the families of firefighters killed in service. Sunday’s celebration was particularly important for Erika Oelkers and her three daughters, who lost FDNY firefighter Tom Oelkers in May to cancer linked to September 11.
“The last nine months that my husband was ill have been really difficult for them. They saw it deteriorate quite quickly and it is difficult for them to understand that their father did not want to leave them, but he loved his job, ”said Erika Oelkers.
Not only did FAO Schwarz welcome more than four dozen children and their families on Sunday, but it also provided free gifts and gift certificates.
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“It was amazing. It was great. It was full of colors, lights and lots of people doing wonderful things for us,” said widow Nanette Ambelas.
The Ambelas daughters were only 5 and 8 years old when Lt. Matt Ambelas died in response to a high-rise fire in 2014. They said the best part of the event every year is reconnecting with other families and firefighters.
“It’s like the fire station is my second family, so I love being with everyone,” Gabriella Ambelas said.
“They never forget and it’s not just now; it’s all year round, ”said Nanette Ambelas.
Today and every day, the ministry keeps that promise.
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In addition to the time spent at FAO Schwarz, families were also treated to a view of the city from the Top of the Rock observation deck.