Dearborn firefighters bring holiday cheer to Center for Exceptional Families

The Dearborn Fire Department brought a bus load of holiday cheer to the Oakwood Center for Exceptional Families on Tuesday.

About 40 members of the department arrived with boxes and bags filled with new toys—enough to virtually fill the lobby at the Center, which serves special needs children and their families throughout Wayne and Oakland counties—and beyond.

“We’ve got a great group here,” said Capt. Steve Worden of the Dearborn Fire Department. “We love helping kids and families.”

The Dearborn Fire Department has long supported the Center for Exceptional Families, both at the holidays and throughout the year. They’ve donated toys to the Holiday Giving Campaign for five years, but this is the first time they visited the facility to hand out the presents in person.

Worden said the firefighters put on several fundraisers throughout the year and buy the presents themselves. The Center for Exceptional Families was just one of their stops on Tuesday; they also had donations planned at the Ronald McDonald House in Detroit and the Penrickton Center for the Blind in Taylor.

“We probably raise about $50,000 every year and we spend every dime,” said Worden.

Susan Youngs, MD, the medical director at the Center, said the donations would help make the holiday season brighter for many of the families they serve. “The families we’re serving at Christmas are some of our neediest families,” she 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.”

The Center for Exceptional Families serves children with multiple special needs and their families, regardless of their ability to pay. They provide everything from the latest and best in medical care to therapy and counseling services designed to help children lead full, productive and independent lives and support them throughout their life journey.

“It’s not just a medical program, per se; it really is family for us,” said Youngs.

The Center serves about 3,000 people every year and is funded primarily through philanthropic efforts, which is why groups like the Dearborn Firefighters are so important, Youngs said.

“They’re pretty amazing. The Dearborn Firefighters have been here for us for a long time,” she said. “They’ve been generous supporters in a lot of different ways. We’re very grateful.”

CUTLINES: Above: Dr. Susan Youngs, with Michael Mattern and Steve Worden both Dearborn Fire Department spread some holiday cheer with Logan Poe, Emily Genaw, and Jonathan Aitkens--with help from Santa and Sparky, of course.
Below: Dearborn Firefighter Scott Korycki Dearborn Councilman David Bazzy with Logan Poe and Sparky.