Anaheim Fire & Rescue donate leftover Christmas toys to Ronald McDonald House


Four red wagons filled with toys made their way up a ramp and into the Orange County Ronald McDonald House on Friday, Jan. 10.

The toys were donated by Anaheim Fire & Rescue (AF&R), along with the City of Orange Fire Department, and delivered to the house by AF&R Chief Pat Russell.

“After the Spark of Love toy drive, we were very fortunate to have residents who continued to donate additional toys to us after Christmas,” AF&R Community Engagement Manager Natali Rudometkin said.  

AF&R did not want to wait until next Christmas to be able to donate the toys, so Russell came up with the idea to donate them to the kids at the Ronald McDonald house in Orange.  The Ronald McDonald House allows families to stay together while their child is receiving specialized medical treatment.

Anaheim Fire & Rescue Community Engagement Manager Natali Rudometkin, left, Community Engagement Specialist Liliana Varela and Anaheim Fire Chief Pat Russell bring toys to the Ronald McDonald House in Orange.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

“Our mission is to provide comfort, care, and support to families who have critically ill children at an Orange County hospital,” Ronald McDonald House Operations Director Katie Russell said. “About 80 percent of our residents that we serve here come from CHOC. Even though it’s a beautiful home, it’s the last place families want to find themselves.”

Because the house offers home-cooked meals, as well as private bedrooms and playrooms for children, parents can focus on the health of their child while staying at the Ronald McDonald House, rather than grocery shopping, cleaning, and cooking.

“What we try to really foster here is a little bit of normality for the families, and we want to celebrate the fact their child is, for example, another chemo down or another radiation down,” Katie Russell said. “So these gifts allow us to offer that sense of home that we want to provide in our mission to the children that are staying here.”

A family’s stay at the house can last anywhere from a few weeks to a year depending on what treatment their child is undergoing.

Russell said he wanted to be sure that any child taking residence at the house has a toy to celebrate his or her birthday or any new celebration and to know that the Ronald McDonald House can count on Anaheim Fire & Rescue and the City of Orange Fire Department.

Katie Russell, operations director for Ronald McDonald House in Orange County, left, sits with her brother, Anaheim Fire Chief Pat Russell, as the fire department delivered toys, donated by the residents of Anaheim, for the kids who stay at the Ronald McDonald House.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge