In the early
1950’s, firefighter Murray Cohn, started collecting toys for needy
kids in the area surrounding his fire station. This labor of love and
generosity took root and grew to other surrounding stations, thus helping
the cause and providing for even more kids. Upon Cohn’s retirement,
Captain Jim Salisbury took over. Then Captain Bob Caldon took on the duty
of “Head Elf” for over 20 years. The Toy Program has carried
on the traditions from long ago, and continues to help hundreds of needy
families each year.
In 1992, a cooperative
decision was made to develop a regional toy drive. Known as the “Spark
of Love,” local area fire departments have teamed with ABC Channel
7 for financial backing, supplies, and media coverage.
Through the combined
generosity of businesses and residents, each year the Spark of Love program
provides gifts to kids throughout Long Beach who would have otherwise
gone without. Spark of Love works in conjunction with several other charitable
organizations, both giving and receiving toys and donations. Each year
we provide for about 400 families and over 20 different community groups.
This builds goodwill within our community, and provides kids with positive
Teachers in the LBUSD
identify special need families throughout the year. Firefighters also
see hardships in the areas they serve and can recommend families. Toys
are collected throughout the month at various city events, parties, from
local businesses, and residents who drop the toys off at our fire stations.
The program runs as a result of numerous volunteer hours put forth by
our LBFD firefighters, lifeguards, Ambassadors, and Honoraries. Delivery
are made to families and community organizations throughout the month
of December, culminating in our CODE 3 Delivery Day where we make rounds
all through the city with Santa in his fire engine sleigh.
sought should be new, unwrapped, toys, sports equipment, clothes, or school
supplies. Items for teens are also needed. These items can be dropped
off at any local area fire station, CVS Pharmacies, City Hall, or select
local area business. SOL also accepts monetary donations. Checks should
be made out to: Friends
of Long Beach Firefighters, Spark of Love.