- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 26, 2000

Ambulances and firetrucks pulled up in front of a Southeast apartment complex yesterday red lights swirling stirring the curiosity of neighbors who peered out their windows.

A blazing fire? A tragic accident?

Not this time.

It was almost two dozen D.C. firefighters, taking a break from saving lives to deliver some holiday cheer and presents to a family who otherwise might have gone without.

And so it was Christmas for the Price family.

After firefighters from Engine Co. 32 and Truck Co. 16 brought their "adopted" family a Christmas tree and decorations last week, they followed up yesterday with $600 in clothing and bicycles and scooters for Delores Price's grandchildren and great-grandchildren, seven in all.

"When they brought the tree, we just couldn't believe it," she said. "The kids were just so happy."

In a room dominated by a giant candy-cane-decked Christmas tree and filled with the aroma of a cooking turkey, 9-year-old Precious confirmed that her Christmas wish had, in fact, come true.

"It was what I asked Santa for," she said, gingerly touching the new scooter.

"I love Christmas," she added. "My cousins and brothers spend time to be together. Sometimes we don't get along, but we love each other. I love the presents, too."

Her younger brother, 7-year-old Kalif, didn't express such lofty sentiments as he tried out his scooter.

"I got a Muscle Boss truck," he said, listing his presents. "All I have to do is push the button and they go."

The family's "adoption" by rescue workers came about after members of the fire company decided to choose a needy family and asked the city department of human services to recommend one. City employees named a family that had impressed them, one in which three of the children remain on the school honor roll.

Mrs. Price, who takes care of her two grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, had asked the city for a basket of food at Thanksgiving. She had asked too late. This holiday, a city administrator remembered and gave her name to the firefighters.

"You made our Christmas," Mrs. Price told Battalion Chief Tom Johnson yesterday as the presents were delivered.

"You made ours," he replied.

Firefighter Tim Bolding, wearing a red hat adorned with reindeer, said he enjoyed being Santa.

"It was a fantastic idea that let us give something back," he said. "Seeing the smiling faces makes me wish I was a kid again."

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