NASSAU — It’s not very common for a 9-year-old boy to give up his birthday presents in a gesture to help those less fortunate during the holiday season.
It turns out that Carson Figueroa is not your typical 9-year-old.
When Carson was asked by his parents, Cynthia and Stan Figueroa, how he wanted to celebrate his birthday this year, he told them he wanted to donate all the gifts he received to Toys for Tots.
He convinced his younger brother Cason — who celebrated along with him at their joint birthday party — to join him in sharing their gifts with the less fortunate children of southern Delaware.
“That was a big deal,” said Jeff Horn, spokesman for Nassau DE Toys for Tots, “We actually made Carson Figueroa our guest of honor at our (Toys for Tots) kickoff event down here on November 13.
“He’s a great kid. His parents are really good people and his dad is a Marine veteran.”
Mr. Horn added that Carson told his parents that he understood not all kids had the things that he did, and with his dad having served in the Marine Corps, he wanted to donate his birthday presents to the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots campaign.
His proud mom and dad agreed with Carson’s unselfish decision.
“It was his idea,” Mr. Horn said. “He said, ‘I know there are a lot of kids who don’t have what I have and I’d like to give something back.’ So, with his dad being a Marine, they knew about Toys for Tots and they said that’s what they wanted to do.”
Mrs. Figueroa then reached out to Nassau DE Toys for Tots coordinator Jim DeMartino, who arranged for the family to receive Toys for Tots collection boxes, banners and wristbands — things that would be appreciated at a youngster’s ninth birthday party.
With Carson’s soccer team and his other friends getting into the spirit of things, more than a full box of toys were collected for this year’s campaign.
Nassau DE Toys for Tots offered their sincere thanks and great appreciation to Carson and Cason, and their parents Stan and Cynthia Figueroa, for the unselfish example they have set.
Toys for Tots said the family’s generosity will go a long way to ensure that all children in Sussex County have a merry Christmas.
“The campaign is going well,” Mr. Horne said. “We’ve had a good response. The one thing we’re doing this year that is relatively new as far as putting our dropoff boxes, we’re putting them in a lot of developments and communities because people aren’t going out as much. They don’t shop, and it’s just more convenient to have the box right there near their home.
“So, we’re getting a really big response from the developments down here.”
As well as one ambitious 9-year-old.
Feeding first responders
As that Toys for Tots chapter joins others around the state to gather presents for children, another group effort has been underway to feed first responders working Thanksgiving Day.
Every first responder working the holiday in Kent and Sussex counties will get a homemade hot meal delivered to them, thanks to the volunteers behind the nonprofit Blessings for Badges.
The group was founded in Sussex County in 2018 to provide meals for police officers, paramedics, firefighters, dispatchers and correctional officers who can’t enjoy a meal at home with their families.
In Sussex, meals will be assembled at Millsboro Fire Company and delivered to each first responder’s station.
“We are just so thankful for what these heroes do for us every day, but especially on holidays when we all are enjoying our families and sometimes forgetting about the people who keep us safe,” said Cindi Susi, of Harbeson, president of Blessings for Badges.
Ms. Susi’s late father was a retired Wilmington police officer, who missed many Thanksgiving meals due to work.
The group has been seeking donations of food and money to support the effort, and the outpouring of support has been gratifying.
In Sussex, several restaurants are pitching in with trays of donated food, including J.D. Shuckers, SoDel Concepts, Big Fish Grill, Crab Barn, Crooked Hammock, Pizza Palace, Harpoon Hanna’s and Crossroads Community Church.
Mountaire Farms is donating chicken and Sysco is providing paper products. Students from Lord Baltimore Elementary School in Ocean View made handmade cards to be included with every meal.
The Ladies Auxiliary of the Georgetown Fire Co. is pitching in with trays of mashed potatoes and the Millsboro Fire Co. Ladies Auxiliary cooked and prepare sides.
In Kent County, a group of volunteers began gathering at Leipsic Fire Co. on Wednesday to begin prepping meals and are back again at 6:30 Thursday morning.
Volunteers will be helping cook, serve and deliver meals to first responders. Leading Kent County’s effort is Deb Lawhead, who is president of Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company Ladies Auxiliary.
Harrington Raceway and Casino is providing all the turkeys and rolls, and several ladies auxiliaries are pitching in with trays of mashed potato, stuffing, and macaroni and cheese.
Other groups helping include Mission BBQ, Main Street Market, Smyrna Dinner. Girl Scout Troop 267 and Calvary Baptist Church are making “Thank You” cards to remind each officer how appreciated they are.
The group is also accepting financial donations to help offset costs associated with the project. Checks can be made payable to Blessings for Badges and mailed to P.O. Box 1041, Millsboro, DE 19966.