PORTLAND, Maine — In addition to their regular commitments of not letting the city burn down and getting folks to the hospital via speeding ambulance, firefighters at the Munjoy Hill station are bringing Christmas presents to a local family this year.

The plan was hatched just two weeks ago by firefighters Brandon Farley and Mark Tweedy while coming back to the station from a call.

“So, we brainstormed a little bit, went down to the East End Community School and talked to the people down there,” said Farley. “And they identified a family in the Munjoy Hill area that we could get behind and help this year.”

The family lives just a few blocks from the station: a single mom and three boys.

“One in elementary school, one in middle school and one in high school,” said Farley.

Farley and Tweedy approached their fellow firefighters and local businesses on the hill, asking for help. Nobody said no. Two weeks later, they had $1,500 in cash and gifts. On Tuesday, they went shopping and came back with basketballs, footballs, headphones, Legos and a couple video games. A local hair salon donated new clothes, including some for mom.

Katie Wallace was working at the Blue Spoon restaurant when Farley walked in during lunch and asked if they’d help.

“I knew the family, and they are lovely,” said Wallace. “The mom’s amazing, the kids are amazing. I couldn’t not do anything.”

Wallace spread the word and collected $400 herself and showed up Wednesday to help firefighters wrap the presents upstairs in their station.

“We’re going to deliver them Christmas morning,” said Farley, “probably in the back of the ambulance.”

He said he was struck by how eager everyone was to help. Next year, he wants all of Portland’s nine fire stations to take part.

“I hope to expand it,” he said. “Citywide.”

Troy R. Bennett

Troy R. Bennett

Troy R. Bennett is a Buxton native and longtime Portland resident whose photojournalism has appeared in media outlets all over the world.