GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — Every year, the Green Bay Metro Fire Department teams up to spread holiday cheer to Brown County teens in need. The department's 'Gifts for Teens' program collects gifts and monetary donations for teenagers who have signed up for Christmas assistance through the Salvation Army.
“We started this program 10 years ago and it was just kind of a pass the hat program with the firefighters to raise donations for area teens who we found out just really weren’t supported in some of the other charitable giving drives here in town,” said engineer Chad Decker.
The program started as a small fundraiser among the department, raising $700 in its first year. Since then, 'Gifts for Teens' has become a city-wide tradition, raising more than $30,000 in its biggest year in 2019.
Starting November 29th, the department will put on 8 different parades through 8 different neighborhoods, going door to door to collect donations. You can also donate by dropping off a new, unwrapped gift at any of the department’s stations. You can also order a gift online and have it shipped to GBMFD Station 5, located at 2310 Finger Rd in Green Bay, or make monetary donations online via Paypal.
For the firefighters who participate in 'Gifts for Teens' each year, it’s an opportunity to connect with the community.
“They give us a great opportunity to get out and interact with the public in a setting that’s more inviting than when we meet them when we’re working," said firefighter Tyler Santfleben. "We get to meet a lot of kids and families and stuff and they’re always excited to see the trucks and talk to us.”
The parades have become a holiday tradition that Green Bay residents look forward to each year.
“We actually get some requests from some of the neighborhood associations to kind of move our parade routes into some of their neighborhoods,” Decker said.
“It’s actually turned into more of an actual parade," Santfleben said. "People are actually lining up along the streets and they wait for us to come around and do our routes every year.”
To view this year's parade routes, click here.