In the spirit of the Christmas season, the Fairfield Fire Fighters Association has raised $9,464 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

The MDA Santa Express, a program established four years ago by the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1426 President Bob Smith, takes reservations from people who want their gifts delivered to youngsters by Santa, riding a Fairfield fire truck.

"We started this in 2006 with six families," Smith said. "This year, Santa and firefighters delivered presents to over 100 families and 300 children."

That, he said, produced a record-breaking fundraising effort.

Local families who signed up also were able to watch Santa's progress on Facebook, and Fire Commission Chairman Thomas Christie and Secretary Charlene Lebo helped out with some of the deliveries. "Our members take their own time away from families and friends to help out our community as well as children with muscular dystrophy," Smith said.

Fire Chief Richard Felner lets firefighters use a reserve truck to make the gift deliveries. The union pays for the diesel fuel for the truck and the families provide the presents that will be doled out to youngsters.

It's a collective effort, Smith said, "but the looks in their eyes when we pull up to their house with Santa Claus makes it all worthwhile."

The firefighters also host a boot drive and barbecue at Trader Joe's in the late summer to collect donations for MDA.

Anyone wishing to make a reservation for next year's MDA Santa Express should call 203-366-7055 or e-mail