Santa brings gifts and food to Fortuna families in need

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FORTUNA- Despite Wednesday’s winter storm Santa made it to Fortuna early to visit more than 120 local families.

Riding in on a fire truck, Santa, Mrs. Claus and nearly 40 firefighters and community members braved the storm to deliver food, clothes and presents to Fortuna families in need.

“In our community, you know there are people that are having hard times and if it wasn't for this they wouldn't have a Christmas,” said Captain Michael Ransford with the Fortuna Volunteer Fire Department, Company 2. “So we're just trying to brighten up their lives and make it a little easier for them during the holidays.”

It’s part of Fortuna Volunteer Fire Department’s Santa’s Sleigh program. The group spent the morning packing trucks and delivering the gifts. This year serving so many families that they had to take to routes, one to the north with half of the crew, and one to the south with the other half.

“Oh, it's amazing. You get people who are just you know, totally surprised and it really lightens them up and the really beneficial part is the kids,” Captain Ransford said. “The kids really light up and to see their faces when Santa Claus shows up is just amazing.”

The program was started back in 1987 by Fire Company 2 as a teddy bear drive for disabled children. Santa’s sleigh has since evolved with nearly all food and gifts now donated by the community.

 “It's a life changing event,” Fortuna Firefighter Tanner Mendes said.

“It really helps the community and i know they appreciate everything we do for them and it's just another way to give back to the community and show them that we're there for them.”