“Santa” Arrived Via Helicopter to Raise Spirits in Storm Ravaged Seaside Heights
Woodland Park, NJ (January 7, 2014) – FSR’s elves were at it again during the 2013 holiday season. This time, George V. Fournier Jr., FSR senior sales engineer, donned red robes, boarded a helicopter and brought joy to hundreds of kids still suffering the after effects of Superstorm Sandy on December 21st as part of the “Christmas on the Island” initiative in Seaside Heights, NJ.
Fournier, a volunteer firefighter in Pequannock NJ is a member of Santa’s Rooftop Response, an organization that provides Christmas gifts to the children of Ortley Beach, Toms River, Lavallette, and the Seaside areas of the Jersey Shore who were displaced by Superstorm Sandy. In 2012, with the help of local churches, Boy’s and Girl’s Scouts, senior and social associations, local Police and Fire Departments and businesses, the group arranged clothing and toy drives, and set-up donation boxes throughout North and Central New Jersey to bring Christmas to over 700 children.
In 2013 Santa’s Rooftop Response and Pequannock Fire Department’s Engine Company 2 teamed up with “Christmas on the Island”, an event started by Courtney Chibbaro, a local resident forced from her home after Sandy, to bring a free fun-filled day to the residents of Ocean County including a Christmas Parade, gifts, and a visit with Santa. Staffed by volunteers and supported with donated food, gifts and even transportation, “Christmas on the Island”- in its second year, honors the people who have struggled and sacrificed since the storm damaged or destroyed much of the New Jersey Shore over 14 months ago.
“For some of these kids this was the only celebration they have had since Sandy hit last year,” said Fournier. “With tears in his eyes, one 6-year old expressed concern that Santa wouldn’t be able to land on his (still) damaged roof. Following intense negotiations, it was decided the sleigh could park on the street with Rudolf directing traffic. My heart melted when he hugged me, relieved and grateful that Santa would indeed visit him on Christmas Eve.”
Santa arrived at the Seaside Heights Fire Department courtesy of a MONOC helicopter to reassure more than 800 kids that he knew where they were. “It’s not just the gifts. So many still aren’t home, I wanted to give them a moment,” said Fournier. “Smiles, even in dark times, are what it’s all about.”
Happy New Year from all at FSR