Green Bay firefighters break a donation record during their Gifts for Teens drive

Posted at 10:51 PM, Dec 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-21 23:51:52-05
They call it the gift giving gap. The Salvation Army of Greater Green Bay say teens in need are often overlooked during Christmas donations. So, five years ago, the Green Bay Metro Fire Department created the Gifts for Teens drive, so no one will feel forgotten.
"This just says, 'Hey you're included, and you're part of our community, and we care about you," explained firefighter Chad Decker.
In years past, firefighters donated out of their own pockets. But this holiday season, they teamed up with NBC26 and asked the community to help fill the need.
"The teens kind of get left out, and I think everyone should have something at Christmas," says donor Kay Baumann of Green Bay.
From Black Friday to December 13th, donors were encouraged to drop off presents at eight Green Bay fire houses and our NBC26 studios. On that final day, the drive moved to ShopKo in Ashwaubenon for a 10 hour long donation blitz.
"I have parents with a pretty decent income, so I can get almost anything that's on my list, and these kids, they don't. So, it feels good to give it to them without their parents having to worry about the hassle of paying for it," said Savannah Davies of Pulaski.
Donors entered for a chance to win a pedal truck created by a ShopKo employee. The company also gave $500 to the cause.
"To have a special event just for the teens is really great," said Michelle Hansen, ShopKo Foundation Public Relations Manager.
BayCare Clinic also handed over a check for $1,000 as well as gifts they collected in their donation bins.
"It's just great to give back," says Mike Schmidt, Director of Business Development for BayCare Clinic.
Firefighters collected $4,300 in cash and used the funds to go shopping the next day. Decker says, "We really couldn't be more humbled by the generosity of the community."
From perfume, electronics, and movie theater gift cards, they filled 11 carts full of goodies. The sales receipt was as long as Santa's list.
Firefighter Logan Simkows says, "To help out those in need or others that need a little more on Christmas, it's a fun way to do our part." 
On Monday, they loaded up their sleighs to transport the gifts to ShopKo Hall and filled up a long table with presents for the Salvation Army's distribution event.
"About 700 toys came in through this drive and that's 700 smiles on Christmas morning because of it, and we are just so overwhelmed and grateful," Kathryn Kroll with the Salvation Army of Greater Green Bay said.
Decker adds, "Firemen like to help, and anytime if there's a need or somebody calls and needs help, the firemen show up, and gift giving is really no different."
Now, they're celebrating a record breaking year and thanking the community for making sure hundreds of teens will have something special under the tree this Christmas.
Wednesday was the final day for families to pick up donated gifts at ShopKo Hall.
The fire department and NBC26 would like to thank you for your generous donations.