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Pittsfield Firefighters Donate Christmas Gifts to DCF
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
02:00PM / Friday, December 15, 2017
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The firefighters delivered the gifts Friday morning.


The union members loaded a truck full of presents for 25 children.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The firefighters union wants children under DCF's care to have a merry Christmas.
 
The Fire Department's IAFF 2647 members donated and delivered presents Friday morning for the state Department of Children and Families to give to 25 children.
 
The social workers will now take those presents out and deliver them to the families.
 
"Every year, the firefighters union takes $2,000 out of their own money, goes out and shops, and tries to help 20 kids in need," said firefighter Jim Heath.
 
Heath was joined by fellow union members Tim Conroy, Matthew Bainbridge, and Devon Whalen to deliver the nicely wrapped gifts. The union had shopped for every child, making sure they got a mix of clothing and toys.
 
"They usually get about four or five gifts each," Conroy said.
 
The specific presents are exactly what the individual children need. According to Jen Gokey, who organizes the program on behalf of DCF, the social workers make the Christmas list for their clients. Those are then compiled, with each child being assigned a number. Those numbers are then sent out to community partners, like the firefighters, to shop.
 
"We do it for most of the kids on our caseloads and we do it anonymously with names and numbers that aren't associated with the family," Gokey said. "We have so many different people who do it in the community. There are so many people who do it and the firefighters are just one."
 
Gokey said the relationship with the firefighters has been a longstanding one, dating back at least a decade. 
 
"They've done this for a number of years and it is a great program," Gokey said.
 
Overall, DCF works with an array of community partners and thousands of gifts for the children. The social workers now get to do the fun part of delivering them.
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