Santa arrived a few days early and on a fire truck at the homes of some South Whitehall families -- including three families struggling financially this year.
The Greenawalds Fire Department held its annual Santa Run Saturday, December 22nd and this year it brought back a tradition of Christmas past.
In the past few years, all of the gifts had been provided by the childrens' families. This year the department adopted three families in need in its "neighborhood".
Members of the fire department purchased multiple Christmas gifts for each of the 16 people in the three families, collected $1,600 in donated gift cards and entertainment passes and hundreds of dollars in food for a Christmas meal.
All three families were surprised and appeared stunned as Santa and some elves handed out box after box of gifts and the fixings for a holiday meal.
The Greenawalds Santa Run was started back in the 1980s focusing on families in need but changed directions over the years. This is the first year in many where the department was able to help struggling families in its community.
"I was overwhelmed by the all the donations from retailers and the [fire] company and 69 News. It feels so good to give back to a community that has always supported us throughout the years," said Greenawalds Fire Department President Bill Sames. "I hope to do this every year so we can make Christmas special for someone every year."
Red Robin, Subway Development of Eastern PA, SaladWorks, Parma Pizza, Friendly's Applebees, Wendy's and Starlight Diner all donated gift cards to help lessen the burden of meals for the families this holiday season and into the new year. Dorney Park, Da Vinci Science Center, Rave Motion Pictures and WFMZ-TV also donated tickets. Rhiel Fine Foods, New York Pickle, Adams' Salads and Stoltzfus Amish Deli, all located at the Allentown Farm Market, helped provide food for Christmas meals. The members of Greenawalds Fire Department are all extremely grateful to those companies for their help in making three families have happier holidays