HISTORY OF THE CFD TOY ASSOCIATION
The Calgary Firefighters Toy Association has a legacy spanning over 75 years. The late Howard Williams, a firefighter at old #3 Fire Station in east Calgary, began repairing old used toys in 1945. He realized the need to provide toys to children who were going to have a bleak Christmas. The idea has mushroomed into a success story.
In the next few years, the reconditioning toy project expanded to all Calgary fire halls. Firefighters worked long hours sorting toys, stripping paint, removing rust, fixing squeaks, and re-painting all the different types of toys being donated.
In 1967 a bold, new plan of hosting the largest Christmas party in Canada was presented to the firefighter membership. A meeting between the Stampede Board and the firefighters soon secured the Stampede Corral for the Sunday before Christmas. A huge cash outlay was required and Calgary firefighters responded with individual donations and an internal payroll lottery within the department which, to date, still funds the vast majority of the Toy Association’s Christmas Party.
Now our toy campaign includes newly purchased toys only. Hundreds of fire personnel, retired firefighters, and civilians volunteer to wrap the gifts and host the party for those less fortunate. Christmas trees with lights and a huge family room set were used to decorate the floor of the Corral. Firefighter “clowns’, mascots, The Calgary Fire Department “Cappy Smart” Band, dignitaries, and an appearance by Santa himself to complete the party.
With the Stampede Corral being torn down, our new home moving forward will be the Telus Convention Centre. This new partnership at this fantastic modern venue will allow us to even further expand our capacity to deliver a little bit of joy over the holiday season to those who may need it. As Calgary’s needs grow every year, we are determined to be able to meet those challenges and ensure no one is left behind.
Ever year, approximately 1500 families will receive invitations and approximately 4000-4500 toys are required, the cost of which is sponsored in large part by the generosity of the Calgary Fire Department personnel and our community partners.