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Indianapolis firefighters treat needy kids to breakfast, shopping, visits with Santa

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Laughter erupted from the kids’ section of JCPenney as Grant Berry and Patricia Davis sorted through racks of faux fur-trimmed winter coats. 

Their final selection? A galaxy print puffer with a furry hood and hidden swath of plush fabric, in varying shades of blue — 12-year-old Davis’s favorite color, she told News 8. 

“Maybe I need a matching one!” her shopping buddy joked, holding the comically undersized jacket up to his muscular frame.

His daily uniform — though far less colorful — is equally eye-catching. 

Berry is an Indianapolis firefighter.

The two unlikely friends were paired together for the fire department’s annual “Clothe-A-Child” event, a donation-funded holiday program established in the 1940s.

Firefighters invited a group of nearly 50 local children to a firehouse breakfast Saturday morning in downtown Indianapolis, followed by a shopping trip to the Greenwood Park Mall and visits with Santa. 

The children, delighted by their “early Christmas,” selected winter coats, school clothes and new shoes — necessities some families wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise. 

“Some of these kids have never been to the mall or owned a winter coat,” said Scott Isaacs, an Indianapolis Fire Department (IFD) chief who had been participating in the event for more than 20 years. “It’s so rewarding to be able to give back and help people who are less fortunate.” 

He called the event a “family affair,” pointing out the spouses and children many firefighters had invited. His daughter, Erin Isaacs, said she had been participating for nearly a decade and cherished the opportunity to bring holiday cheer to children in need. 

The program spends about $10,000 each year outfitting the group of 50 children.

Clothe-A-Child is funded by the fire department’s “Fill The Bell” charity. Donations of any amount (including spare change) can be made through Christmas Eve to benefit next year’s shopping trip. 

Indianapolis firefighters will “stand the bell” every day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the following locations: 

  • Castleton Square Mall (Macy’s) 
  • Circle Centre Mall (3rd floor)

Perhaps Fill The Bell visitors will run into Berry and Davis on another shopping trip. At press time, the two were still searching for just the right pair of sweatpants. In blue, of course.