By Mike Kinney
Richmond Fire Department Capt. Marcus Faumui grew up in foster homes in Richmond with the dream of being a city firefighter. He also wanted to be part of the program run by Richmond firefighters that ensures children like him have toys for the holidays, no matter their income level.
Capt. Faumui went on to achieve both goals, earning the title of America’s hardest working firefighter by United Airlines in 2018 for his work on the job and in the community.
However, the job of a Richmond firefighter – especially during the holiday season – is never done. This week, Capt. Faumui and his public safety colleagues are calling upon the community to donate new and unwrapped toys at Richmond fire stations. Their goal is to ensure up to 500 struggling families have toys this holiday season.
Bins are set up at all fire stations and they will accept toy donations through Tuesday, Dec. 12. Tax deductible monetary donations are also accepted to help purchase toys and also bikes for children.
It’s all part of the Richmond Police and Fire Holiday Drive. In 1989, now-retired Richmond firefighter Rod Woods saw the need in the community and organized a small toy drive to help families. Separately and at the same time, the Richmond Police Department saw the need in the community and focused on providing struggling families with food for the holidays. After many years of growing their separate programs, they united as one entity and filed for nonprofit status so they could receive corporate sponsorship to help more families.
Chevron Fire stepped up and continues its support of the program. El Cerrito Fire also joined for a time.
The holiday drive’s Board of Directors “work extremely hard to make sure the toys will reach the children,” Famui said. The Board includes representatives of the Richmond fire and police departments, Chevron Richmond Fire, Chevron, the YMCA, Richmond Rotary and the city’s Crime Prevention Board.
Corporate sponsors from the community step up to the plate not just with money, but also with volunteers to help with toy and food bagging and distribution.
“This program runs on the community and business to help make it stronger each and every passing year,” Capt. Famui said.
To make a monetary donation to ensure there are enough holiday toys and food to distribute, click here. And again, feel free to drop by any Richmond fire station to drop off new and unwrapped toys.
If you want to spice up the process of your donation, you can also attend a raffle to benefit the program. The event will take place at East Brother Beer Co. at 1001 Canal Blvd. in Richmond on Dec. 2 from 3:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
For more information about the Richmond Fire and Police Toy Program, visit its website here or call (510) 375-3477.