A team of firefighters in Buffalo, New York, put aside their suits and helmets on Sunday to throw a birthday party for a six-year-old boy whose house was destroyed just days before.
Erick Hill’s mother, Jamia Jones, had gone to Party City to pick up some supplies for his sixth birthday party Thursday afternoon when both the mother and son witnessed their house burn down, WGRZ reported.
WSVN reported that although everyone in the building got out safely and no one was hurt, the family lost everything— including Erick’s birthday presents.
Jones had been out buying balloons and other supplies for the party when her cousin alerted her to the blaze at her place. By the time she returned the house, her home was engulfed in flames.
Two days later, a group of local firefighters threw Erick a surprise birthday party so he could have some happy memories of his sixth birthday.
“We decided to get together, throw him a birthday party, shower him with a lot of gifts, invite his family here and show him that there is a second family out there that he can rely on,” Buffalo Fire Commissioner William Renaldo said, according to Yahoo News.
The firefighters pulled together a Batman-themed party with truckloads of gifts and firefighters singing to him.
The fire department also named Erick an honorary member of the squad, and one of the firefighters crafted a special toy box out of wood to keep all of his toys inside.
“There’s no amount of thanks that you can give for all of this,” Jones said. “All the gifts, all the time, they didn’t have to do it… and I’m just so grateful.”
John Otto, the vice president of Buffalo Fire Fighters Local 282 who helped organize the party, called it “a job well done.”
“If we can take his mind off the stress for an afternoon, then it was a job well done,” Otto told CNN. “Mission accomplished.”
People throughout Buffalo moved by the story have also created a GoFundMe page to help Erick’s family get back on their feet. As of Tuesday afternoon, the page raised more than $2,500 out of its $10,000 goal.