By Kristen Levine
Princeton Fire Department is holding another gift delivery event this year for town residents, offering
a chance for families to drop off gifts by fire truck rather than reindeer-pulled sleigh. The deliveries
have become a holiday highlight for the Christmas season.
James Martin, an on-call firefighter for Princeton and delivery program director, sees the gift
deliveries as a way for the department to engage on a more personal level with the community they
“It’s a great way to get out and let the community see you,” he said. “It’s really fun to do. We’ve had
good success with it; we deliver between forty to sixty gifts around town.”
Participation in the program has been made more difficult by the pandemic and safety precautions to
prevent illness. Martin noted that full protections were necessary while delivering gifts. “Covid was a
challenge… dropping off and delivering was a challenge, there was some hesitancy [in participation].”
With vaccination and social safety measures in place to keep Covid at bay, Martin is optimistic about
renewed participation with less hesitation to come together in communal efforts. The main concerns for
participation now are regulation of space; Martin stated that “the limiting factor is space; there’s not a
huge amount of space in the truck.”
Along with the gifts, department members both in Santa costume and full firefighting gear are along
for the ride. In the interest of providing as much space for gift deliveries in the truck as possible, each
participating family can provide one gift to be delivered. These gifts vary – Martin recalls a favorite
delivery of a puppy to one family.
“The puppy one was great,” he said. “We picked it up around the block, showed up [in the fire truck]
and the little kid didn’t know what to do…a puppy, Santa, a firetruck. It’s a memorable thing to watch.
We look forward to doing it every year.”
There is no interruption of normal services while on the delivery route. The department uses the drive
around Princeton as a training opportunity for newer firefighters to learn driving routes. The deliveries
are scheduled on a rotation so that the department has staff on hand for calls.
“We’ve answered calls while out on deliveries,” Martin said. “It’s usually quicker because the trucks
are already out on the road.”
When asked about his personal hopes and expectations for the program, Martin noted Princeton’s
smaller, more closely-knit community allows for word to travel quickly to garner interest in
“We’re hoping [the delivery program] is a permanent thing in Princeton,” he said. “[The department]
likes being part of it. Overall it will keep going as we get more residents to come in and drop off gifts.”
Gifts can be dropped off at the Princeton Fire Station 2 on Sunday, December 12 from 8 AM to 4 PM.
For questions about the gift delivery program, calls can be directed to 978-464-2707, extension 1051.