“Hi, Merry Christmas,” young Khamari said with a smile as the Santas — or actually a group of Tyler firefighters filed into his room to give him Lego blocks, toy cars, and Play-Doh.
His mother, Kamry Thompson, stood close by, telling Khamari, “What do you say?” as the firefighters handed him each gift.
“Thank you,” he said shyly.
In another hallway, the firefighters visited Keyshawn Hampton, 11, who sat ready for the visit in his pajamas, along with his dad, Lionel Hampton.
Fire Chief Tim Johnson and the men had come from a similar visit with children at Mother Frances Hospital.
For more than 20 years, city firefighters have collected toys at each fire station and given them to children in need. But this is the first year for firefighters to distribute toys to the hospitals in Tyler.
“The best thing about Tyler is the people — they are so generous,” Johnson said as he stood in the ETMC lobby preparing to go upstairs to distribute gifts. Although all stations collected toys, Johnson said that stations 2 and 7 each had a POD container that took in toys from each fire station.
“We’ve filled each POD up several times, and we take them to The Salvation Army,” said Johnson, who has been with the fire department for 32 years. And now, children at the hospitals will benefit.