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Families in Need Gifted With Toys, Visit From Santa in New Haven

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Leaving the reindeer behind but still arriving in style, Santa showed up at the Dixwell Station in New Haven to personally visit some of his biggest fans.

Kid after kid got a present picked out just for them. For the fourth year, the New Haven Fire Department and Toys for Tots joined forces with the Kinship and Respite Program of the New Haven Probate Court to make sure kids in the area have a memorable Christmas.

"We want them to know the consistent thing is the NHFD is always here if they have an emergency and we want to be here for them when there's not an emergency, too. And to be here without a 911 call is pretty awesome," said New Haven Firefighter Daniel Del Prete, who helped spearhead the event.

Organizers said every child at Monday's gathering is being cared for by a relative who is not their parent. Family members opened their heart and home to children in need.

"They have given up their lives for these children to stay in the family," said Kinship and Respite Program Director Lois Robinson.

"If it wasn't for Toys for Tots or probate court, we'd barely be surviving," said Bernice Hobby.

Hobby raised two grandchildren and is currently raising two more. While it isn't easy, she wouldn't have it any other way.

"I love taking my grandchildren in because I don't want them to be raised by anyone else," said Hobby.

Monday's event was filled with food and presents and it helps guardians who already are giving so much. Those who put it all together are getting something out of it too.

"This is exactly what I want every year," said USMC Staff Sgt. Michael Rickaby who helped create the event. "Handing out toys and seeing smiles on the kids' faces every year really hits home, so it's always good to see."

If you'd like to help, you can donate to Toys for Tots to make sure every child has a present this holiday season.

For those interested in learning more about the Guardian Kinship Program, you can head to

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