Firefighters, Exchange Club give families a merrier Christmas


Dearborn Firefighter 2 Mike Mattern (above right) helps Alex Daigneau assemble his new toy at the Oakwood Center for Exceptional Families. At right, Dearborn City Councilman David Bazzy (below) helps Logan Poe assemble his new toy.
Photos by Scott Bewick


‘We love helping kids and families. We probably raise about $50,000 every year and we spend every dime.’
— Dearborn
Fire Capt.
Steve Worden

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — Five hundred children and a couple hundred families at area medical centers received presents and supplies Dec. 18 to help make their holidays a bit brighter.

Dearborn Fire Capt. Steve Worden and Dearborn Exchange Club Outreach Program Coordinator Patrick D’Ambrosio and about 40 firefighters, among others, donated the items to spread a little Christmas love, D’Ambrosio said.

“It was a success,” D’Ambrosio said. “It was a tremendous amount of toys and we fulfilled the obligation and the commitment to all the centers.”

The firefighters — representing the Dearborn Firefighters Burn Drive — and Exchange Club members dropped off gifts and supplies at the Oakwood Center for Exceptional Families, 18501 Rotunda Drive; Ronald McDonald House of Detroit; the University of Michigan Health System Trauma Burn Center in Ann Arbor; and the Penrickton Center for Blind Children in Taylor.

Worden said the firefighters put on several fundraisers throughout the year and purchased the presents themselves, according to an Oakwood press release.

“We love helping kids and families,” Worden said in the release. “We probably raise about $50,000 every year and we spend every dime.”

D’Ambrosio said it was the Exchange Club’s first time dropping off gifts with the firefighters — although it is no stranger to giving back.

“We decided to do that to help them out,” D’Ambrosio said of the collaboration. “We felt that this would be a great thing for us to do; we will probably continue.”

The Exchange Club has fundraisers throughout the year and the funds are put back into programs that help Dearborn residents, D’Ambrosio said.

For the past month, the Exchange Club collected and donated a number of toys to the Burn Drive. Counting the Exchange club donations, the drive collected toys worth $20,000.

Worden said the Dearborn firefighters have held fundraisers to raise money to help families — especially at Christmastime — for the past 25 years.

Worden said they gave parents household items such as sugar, toilet paper, batteries, and paper towels; Worden said he and the others wanted to help the families have a merrier Christmas.

Oakwood Center for Exceptional Families Medical Director Dr. Susan Youngs said the donations will help brighten the holiday season for the families at the center.

“The families we’re serving at Christmas are some of our neediest families,” Youngs said. “When we give, we give to the whole family, not just the children. They really wouldn’t have Christmas if it weren’t for the center.”

D’Ambrosio agreed.

“The kids were just overjoyed,” D’Ambrosio said.

(Sherri Kolade can be reached at