The word is defined as ‘something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation’. In today’s America, more and more that word has come with a dollar sign attached to it; we end up focusing on the number of presents as opposed to the wonder of the experience; quantity over quality.
And then there are times when a look on a child’s face reminds us of just how priceless a gift can be – regardless if it cost any money or not.
This year in Roselle Park for the first time, the Roselle Park Fire Department (RPFD) brought a simple idea to life – have Santa Claus pay an early visit to children in their homes.
Going to over 100 residences this past weekend, members of the Borough’s volunteer fire department stopped by homes to have Santa Claus personally deliver gifts that were pre-wrapped by parents to children; ever-expectant children who looked with awe as the man they heard or were told about and even maybe waited in line at some mall to take a picture with came to them, at their house, and hand-delivered gifts.
The compliments from moms and dads poured in over the last few days for what most hope will be the first of many annual visits from Santa to come.
“My daughter was beyond happy with seeing Santa!” said resident Claudia Barbiero.
Dominika Venitelli echoed the sentiment, “RPFD rocks! Merry Christmas Everyone!”
“A very special thank you to the Roselle Park Fire Department for coming by with Santa made our son’s day,” commented Eric Kennedy, “These are priceless times that will never be forgotten. Thank You so much.”
James Motley remarked, “Thank you so much to Santa and the RPFD! Great job, gentlemen!!!”
“Such a great experience,” said Andrew Chemidlin, “My girls were so excited to have Santa deliver gifts to our house.”
More and more, people were commenting on this being just one of the many things they loved about Roselle Park. Most notably was Lisa Cooney who stated, “Thank you Santa and the RP Fire Department! What a thrill!! Love this little town!!”
The looks on their children’s faces were as much a gift to parents as the visit from Santa was to their children. Danielle Scheuermann said, “[My daughter] was very surprised with her visit from Santa and loves her surprise. Great job, RPFD!”
“Thank you Roselle Park Fire Department for bringing Santa to our house! The kids were so happy and amazed he knew their names!” remarked Amanda Whiteside. She was not alone in the joy parents felt when Santa called their children by their names, making it more personal and more real for everyone.
“Thank you to all the firehouses of the Roselle Park Fire Department for bringing the magic and the wonder of the season to such vivid life in the eyes of all of Roselle Park’s children.”
Some adults gave into those childhood memories of their own, like Lynnor Bontigao, who regaled, “How many times does Santa come to your house and call your kids by their names and tell them they’ve been ‘mostly’ nice? I’m sure some of us adults wished to be kids again for a moment. So happy at how the firetrucks came with Santa and how the RPFD pulled this off. The Christmas spirit has been renewed in this house!”
Bringing it back home, Jennifer Lelievre Haas commented on how she thanked the RPFD not only for what they did this weekend, but what they do when the need arises, “The look of joy on my sons face says it all! Thank you RPFD for what you did and thank you for what you do every time that pager goes off!”
“I’ll never forget the look on our boys’ faces when Santa visited. I hope this becomes a new RP tradition,” said Anne Marie Peterson.
Michele Tolentino summed it up with, “Thanks Santa.”
And still, the gratitude kept coming in.
Michelle Spano, sharing her family’s experience, recounted, “Our kids were so excited when we told them that Santa and the RPFD was coming to the house and the look on their faces was priceless! In our eyes, this was a better than any gift under the tree! We are hoping it becomes an annual tradition and will gladly donate yearly so the Fire Department could go enjoy a lunch or a dinner!”
People wanted to donate money (they did), cookies, cakes, just anything to show how much they appreciated the small gesture that added to what future generations will recall with fondness as something Roselle Park can to aspire to become – because, really, it is what Roselle Park is all about.
Jeof Vita, took an idea from another resident and was inspired to create a poster that displayed photographs people shared of Santa visiting their homes. In talking about his contribution and inspiration, he said, “Thank you to all the firehouses of the Roselle Park Fire Department for bringing the magic and the wonder of the season to such vivid life in the eyes of all of Roselle Park’s children. Memories make this time of year so special and the RPFD has left an indelible one in the hearts and minds of the entire community. Merry Christmas Roselle Park!”
As for the fire department, Fire Chief Joseph Signorello commented, “We all loved doing it. We all had so much fun and look forward to next year. We may expand it to have people donate canned goods and other food to the Casano Community Food Pantry. Every time I arrived, the looks on everyone’s faces was a present for me.”
A 3½ foot tall glossy poster of the photograph above will be delivered to all the firehouses for them to display.