Christmas arrived at Antonello Elementary School on Thursday in the back of a bright red 1950s-vintage fire engine, under the watchful eye of a stuffed Dalmatian riding shotgun.
Sirens blaring, the restored truck from the Nevada National Security Site and rigs from other area fire departments were were on hand for the delivery of a toy for each of the 653 students of the North Las Vegas school, where more than 200 kids ranging from kindergartners to fourth-graders lined the play field.
Jumping and screaming with excitement, the students could barely wait to to see what the firefighters representing the Nevada Burn Foundation had in store.
“We kept this a secret from them,” first-grade teacher Deborah Noorda said.
Noorda said she overheard one of her students tell the others, “I saw this on the news last night — and they bring presents!”
As the sirens faded, Noorda whispered, “I think they figured it out.”
“Are you guys excited?” yelled Nino Galloway, the foundation’s vice president.
The children shrieked with excitement.
The kids didn’t get to pick out their toy, but none appeared disappointed at what they did receive.
“This is what I wanted!” Noorda’s first-graders said, one after another, before huddling to proudly show off toy monster trucks, activity books and dolls.
The firefighters from Clark County, Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson and Nevada Test Site who form the Nevada Burn Foundation worked with Amanda Stecki, founder of the Nurses of Southern Nevada, to provide the presents.
“The amount of kids identified as ‘at risk’ is so high that we gave the whole school a toy,” said Nevada Burn Foundation operations assistant Keith Armington. In past years, seven out of 10 students in chosen schools received a present.
Armington said Stecki’s group was responsible for getting 75 percent of the toys. Stecki said her group collected a record number of 1,100 donated toys in just two hours.
In addition to Thursday’s delivery at Antonello, toys will be distributed to 40 local charities, including the Boys &Girls Clubs of Southern Nevada, Angel Tree and University Medical Center Trauma and Burn Center, Armington said.