Calgary Firefighters Association

Established 1917 · IAFF Local 255


Calgary Firefighters Toy Association

The late Howard Williams, a firefighter at old #3 Fire station in east Calgary began repairing old used toys back in 1945. He realized the need to provide toys to children who were going to have a bleak Christmas. The idea 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 "Corral" for the Sunday before Christmas. A huge cash outlay was required and Calgary Firefighters responded with individual donations and a payday lottery within the department which, to date, still funds the vast majority of the Toy Association's Christmas Party.

Today's toy campaign includes newly purchased toys only. Hundreds of fire personnel and retired firefighters volunteer to wrap the gifts and host the party for those less fortunate. Christmas trees with lights and a huge family room set are used to decorate the floor of the Corral. Firefighter "clowns', mascots, Calgary Fire Department Band "The Cappy Smart Band", dignitaries, and an appearance by Santa complete the party.

Every year, approximately 1800 families will receive invitations. (Primarily through the two Calgary School Boards and the Salvation Army)

Approximately 4000 toys are required every year, the cost of which is sponsored in large part by the generosity of the Calgary Fire Department Personnel and corporate sponsors.