Fifth annual Shop with a Hero event brought together 50 kids and first responders for the holiday season

Local News

FULTON, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– Alejandra Vega’s Christmas list was full of toys and dolls for herself, but she also had things in her cart for the ones closest to her. 

But there was an added bonus! Vega was shopping alongside one of Fulton Fire Department’s newest heroes, something a young kid doesn’t get to do everyday. 

“I just finished training, so I’ve been on duty just for like a couple weeks,” firefighter Julie Seale said. 

Vega and 49 other children were given $150 Wal-Mart gift cards to shop for themselves and their families alongside first responders from across Oswego County in the fifth annual Shop with a Hero event.  

Event organizer and Village of Phoenix police officer, Brian Fortino said this year the event was bigger than ever before.

“This is our largest year yet we started with seven kids and here we have fifty all thanks to Wal-Mart, the partnerships between the City of Oswego, the City of Fulton, Oswego County Youth Bureau and the United Way of Oswego County. Without all their support and the grant from Wal-Mart this wouldn’t be possible.”

Brian Fortino, Event Organizer/Phoenix police officer

And the list of partners doesn’t stop there. Organizations, businesses and community members came together to provide free food, gift bags, extra toys, gift wrapping and much more to each of the children and their families for this holiday season. 

“Heroes aren’t just police and firemen, they come from all walks of life in our community, so we have everyone from dentists, to judges, to school personnel.”

Brian Fortino, event organizer/phoenix police officer

And Fortino said he does it to see the smile on the children’s faces when they’re shopping and to help strengthen community relationships between the youth and first responders. 

Giving a whole new meaning to the phrase, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’

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