Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Pelham's First District Firefighters Repaired Christmas Toys for Children in 1938

The Great Depression still was underway.  In those years, the Town of Pelham offered needy Pelham children a Christmas holiday party with a visit from Santa Clause and a bag full of toys and necessaries for each child.  See Wed., Dec. 06, 2017:  The Town of Pelham's First Annual Children's Holiday Season Party Held in 1932.  The firemen of the First Fire District of the Town of Pelham joined in such charitable efforts.  In 1938, they collected and repaired broken toys as Christmas gifts for Pelham youngsters.  Recently, members of Pelham Professional Firefighters Local 2213 posted to Facebook a very special photograph that commemorates that holiday season in 1938.

The photograph, seen below, shows Pelham firefighters repairing children's toys for Christmas, working on the apparatus floor of the current firehouse.  The caption suggests that the photograph was printed and then given to the firemen by the Pelham Lion's Club.  The caption reads:  "First Fire District Firemen repair toys for Children's Christmas PRESENTED BY PELHAM LION'S CLUB, 1938."

The photograph appeared on the front page of the December 22, 1938 issue of The Pelham Sun.  That Christmas season, the firemen cooperated with the Lions Club of Pelham to distribute gifts to needy Pelham children identified by the local Welfare Department.

The President of the Lions Club, Herman Glasser, led a major initiative that season to collect toys and playthings that needed light repair.  Glasser also donated a supply of paint to touch up articles as did Arthur D. Koppel, Chairman of the Board of Fire Commissioners.

The toys began pouring in by about the third week of November that year.  About 2,000 arrived from "all sections of the Town."  The firemen immediately began repairs and repainting.  

Village of North Pelham officials also were involved.  North Pelham Mayor Dominic Amato and North Pelham Village Clerk Walter H. McIlroy led a group that packed the toys and distributed them to parents of needy children who were to receive them that morning.  In addition to the toys, a generous anonymous "local resident" donated boxes of candy so that each child received not only toys, but also a box of candy.  

The Christmas Spirit was alive and well as it is today in Pelham, New York.  

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"Volunteer Firemen and Lions Club Help Santa Claus Repairing and Distributing More Than 2,000 Toys

Santa Claus will come down the chimney according to tradition on Saturday night in many homes in Pelham where, but for the effort of the firemen of the First Fire District and the members of the Lions Club, he might have gone by without noticing.  His pack will be filled with toys which have been collected by the service club and repaired by the firemen.  It is estimated that 2,000 playthings received at the Fire Headquarters and the majority of these [illegible] were distributed among children of needy families.  The lists were prepared by the Welfare Department.

Herman Glasser, president of the Lions Club was in charge of the group that collected the articles, and he also donated a supply of paint.  Arthur D. Koppel, chairman of the Board of Fire Commissioners also contributed paint.  During the last month members of the department have been having a joyous time returning to their more youthful days, by repairing and repainting the toys which were sent by residents of all sections of the town.

Mayor Dominic Amato and Village Clerk Walter H. McIlroy head the group which packed the presents and began distribution of them to the parents of the children who are to receive them on Christmas morning.  In addition to the toys, a box of candy, donated by generous local resident, was included in every gift box."

Source:  Volunteer Firemen and Lions Club Help Santa Claus Repairing and Distributing More Than 2,000 Toys, The Pelham Sun, Dec. 22, 1938, p. 1, cols. 3-6.  

"Spread Christmas Cheer With Lights On Outdoor Trees At Your Residence

Pelham's Christmas display should extend throughout the town according to the members of the Pelham Lions Club who are urging that local merchants set a good example for the rest of the town by erecting outdoor Christmas displays of Christmas tree, greens and lights.  The service club has inaugurated a Christmas Display prize to be awarded the local merchant whose storefront is judged the most attractive during the holiday shopping season.  The displays must be erected by Dec. 15.

The Lions Club is offering a $15.00 cash prize to be awarded to the merchant whose outdoor display of Christmas greens and electric lights is judged the best by a committee of women to be selected  by Mrs. E. A. Jimenis, chairman of the Susan B. Holmes Garden Trophy Committee of the Manor Club.  The displays must be installed by Dec. 15.  

The Lions Club committee for the display competition is James T. Bollettieri, Freeman Yorks and John Quatroni.

In conjunction with the Christmas Display in the shopping district the members of the service club are urging local residents to spread the Christmas illumination throughout the town by decorating outdoor trees at their homes with Christmas lights.  A committee of members of the clubs has planned to make a survey through the various sections of the town and to make suitable recognition of the neighborhoods which present the most attractive appearance by Christmas tree illumination during the holiday season."

Source:  Spread Christmas Cheer With Lights On Outdoor Trees At Your Residence, The Pelham Sun, Dec. 2, 1938, Vol. 28, No. 35, p. 1, cols. 7-8.

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