The generosity of the Christmas spirit is in the air, as islanders spend a considerable amount of time rejoicing in the season, but also remembering those with a need.

Fire department pitches in

The Marco Island Fire-Rescue Department joined with Christmas Island Style at the annual Christmas Street Parade to collect toys for the Greater Naples Toy Drive. Attendees, entries into the parade and the Marco Riders motorcycle group came together to load the special sleigh that led the parade with a number of different toys. The local fire-rescue foundation was also involved in donating to the worthy cause as they collected toys on the antique fire truck in the parade.

The Marco Bay Yacht Club donated many toys, but also donated seven bicycles to the efforts.

“We were blown away when they started handing down the toys and then came the bikes,” said Rich Stavac, the Santa’s Elf that drives the special vehicle pulling the sled.

“This is just great,” said Chris Byrne, Marco’s deputy fire-rescue chief, when on Monday the sled arrived at the firehouse on San Marco Road.

City Manager Roger Hernstadt, who was at the station with Fire-Rescue Chief Mike Murphy and Byrne, was equally overwhelmed.

“This is what the season is about,” said Hernstadt as he helped to unload the Christmas sled in one of the bays at the station.

The Marco department joins with a number of other fire departments from throughout Collier County to ensure those in need have their holidays brightened during a time when some may be lost in the shuffle.

“We are always coming across families with hidden needs and we do our best to insure those requirements are met in a quiet and respectful manner,” said Mike Murphy.

YMCA Giving Tree

Families came together in the new Youth Development Center on the YMCA Campus on Sand Hill Street on Friday evening to enjoy a bountiful meal and have a chance to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus and have their pictures taken.

More than 175 parents and children participated.

“These are all children of families that participate as scholarship recipients in our afterschool and summer camp programs,” said Stephanie Pepper, the youth development manager for the YMCA. “Our staff and board members, along with many of our corporate supporters help us to make this a very successful program.”

In addition, each child was given an opportunity to pick up a wrapped gift according to their age and gender. Parent were also able to pick up Christmas decorations for their homes and other holiday items. The items were all donated by Walmart in East Naples.

Joey’s Pizza and Pasta House donated the pasta dish and garden salad, while Publix donated several turkey and ham dinners. Board members and other YMCA members donated various other desserts and additional food offerings.

Christmas Island Style events

Friday, Dec. 18: 5:30 p.m. Christmas movie at Veterans’ Community Park at the Christmas Tree

Friday, Dec. 18: 5:30 p.m. Christmas caroling cruise on the Princess

Sunday, Dec. 20: 6 p.m. Santa’s calling / YMCA

Monday Jan. 11: 6 p.m. Christmas Island Style awards / Rose History Auditorium

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