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DC firefighters save Christmas for local family

D.C. grandparents Maurice Dixon and Cheryl Dixon lost everything when a fire ripped through their apartment Tuesday — including the hoard of toys they had bought for their grandkids. But local firefighters weren’t about to let their Christmas go up in smoke.

WASHINGTON — When a fire tore through Maurice Dixon and Cheryl Dixon’s Naylor Road apartment Tuesday night, firefighters couldn’t understand why a residence with two adults and no children had so many toys in it.

“To just have two adults,” Fire Chief Ed Pearson said, “they were doing some serious toy buying.”

They later learned it’s because they were two grandparents buying toys for their kids. All those gifts were lost in the fire.

“We knew we had to step in at that point,” Pearson said.

And so the firefighters with Engine Company 15 in Southeast D.C. did exactly that. On Wednesday, Pearson and Mike Donlon, another chief with Engine 15, reached out to Local 36 (D.C. firefighter’s union), the D.C. Firefighters Burn Foundation, Toys for Tots, and Mary’s Center to see if anything could be done.

Donlon said the answer was a real quick “yes.”

“Within a few minutes of me sending the email [to another colleague who has a relationship with Mary’s Center] he called me,” Donlon said. “He said, ‘Send somebody up there to pick up the toys. They’re ready. They’re bagged. The children’s names are on the bags.’ I couldn’t believe it.”

It also just so happened that Local 36 was giving out jackets on Wednesday as part of its annual coat drive, and so new jackets for the Dixons’ grandkids were also rustled up.

Then on Christmas Eve, the firefighters made the delivery, bringing in the Dixons and their extended family to the firehouse on 14th Street Southeast on Christmas Eve for a delivery that seemed to leave everyone overwhelmed with emotion.

“It’s been an extremely rough couple of days,” said Maurice Dixon, who said he lost just about everything except the clothes they were wearing. “We’re starting completely over.”

Like any grandparent, he was looking forward to being able to spoil his grandkids.

“It’s important for grandparents who love their grandkids — we go all out on Christmastime,” he said. “And for us to lose all the presents that we did, the fire department said that they were going to look into helping us for this Christmas season.”

A few minutes later, Dixon was able to get a glimpse at the table full of gifts meant for everyone. He was nothing short of stunned, uttering an “oh wowwww” before pausing to take it all in.

“It’s overwhelming because we’re not used to people doing stuff for us,” he said.

After the formal presentation, Dixon laughed with the firefighters.

“What do we do? We can’t open them” he said.

After all, it wasn’t quite Christmas yet.

“It warms your heart. It lets you know that the love of Christmas is true. It lets you know that the spirit of giving is true,” Dixon said. “So it’s emotional and we’re very, very appreciative about everything that has transpired. And we thank the fire department for stepping up and showing us love and giving our grandkids a Christmas that was taken away from us.”

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