Johnston firefighters gather Toys for Tots


It’s a heart-warming tradition that for years has put smiles on the faces of countless children on Christmas morning.

It’s also the goal of the Johnston Association of Firefighters to AGAIN fill the back end of a JFD Rescue vehicle.

It’s officially known as the 11th Annual Toys for Tots Dive that is coordinated and sponsored by the Johnston Firefighters, Local 1950 and for the second time will include Steph Harris, who owns and operates the highly-popular Strings Bar and Grill located at 183 George Waterman Road in Johnston.

The Toys for Tots Drive is actually a two-fold program, the first of which being held to help the U.S. Marine  Corps Reserve fill requests to make Christmas merry for countless children from needy families by simply purchasing then placing a toy in one of the official boxes.

Thus, Local 1950 will have many cardboard boxes with logos that members place at various locations like schools and public building in town with the hopes that people will realize the on-going need to help Santa Claus bring joy into the homes and hearts of needy children on Christmas.

“We are hoping people will help fill the Toys for Tots boxes,” said Jon Pistacchio, a Johnston Fire Department lieutenant who serves as Local 1950 vice president. “Throughout the years people have been very, very generous in giving one or two toys and in some cases more … we’re hoping that that trend continues.”

The second part the 11th Annual Toy Drive will be held on Wednesday evening, Dec. 8 starting at 7 p.m. when the Johnston Firefighters Local 1950 teams up with Harris’ Strings Bar and Grill for a night of fun, food and music to help fill the back end of a JFD Rescue vehicle.

“Our goal, as always, is to completely fill the back of one of our reserve rescue vehicles,” said Pistacchio. “Also, thank you to Steph Harris for her continued help in providing food as well as music for the night.”

As she did before, Harris provided a complimentary buffet as well as music that this year will be played by a high-energy band named Witzend and as Pistacchio said with a wide smile on his face: “It’s rumored that Step will have a special guest like jolly ol’ Saint Nick, a.k.a. Santa Claus who has visited us before for this party.”

Pistacchio also mused: “There are no strings attached … all people have to do is bring at least one new and unwrapped toy and they can enjoy the free complimentary (meal and entertainment). Steph will also have drink specials all night so please plan on stopping by and help us fill the back end of that reserve rescue vehicle.”

After the Dec. 8 event, the toys will be donated to the U.S. Mariner Corps for the annual distribution at Christmas.

Local 1950 officially launched its 2021 Toys for Tots Drive last Friday at JFD Headquarters with one of the official boxes that was nearly filled with and impressive display of toys for boys and girls.

JFD Firefighters that took part were: Chris DelFino, Battalion Chief Richard Boehm, Scott Thacker, Kevin Hoskins, Capt. Bob Marshall and Lt. Paul Pontarelli.


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