St. Pius X Church and St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica in Beaumont teamed up with the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation Dec. 9 to put on a Christmas toy give-away to help hundreds of families and children affected by the flooding from Hurricane Harvey
The foundation, which has stepped in to help out with disaster relief following Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina, honors the sacrifice of New York Fire Department firefighter Stephen Siller, who died trying to save lives at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
Retired NYFD firefighter Tom O’Connor said he and members of the foundation came down to New Orleans to help with cleanup after Katrina in 2005. That’s when the foundation started the tradition of making sure each storm victim got at least one Christmas present. And the need was so great in Louisiana that the foundation kept lending a hand for 10 years. A couple of years went by and then Harvey struck Southeast Texas in August 2017. And O’Connor was at it again. He arrived to help gut houses.
“Seeing how much destruction there was here, we decided to bring it (Christmas gift give-away tradition) back and do it here,” O’Connor said.
The retired New York firefighters took turns escorting children from one gift table to the next. O’Connor did the same. He strode over to a young boy who walked into the parish hall.
“How old are you?” O’Connor asked him. “Six,” the boy said.
“My oldest grandson is six,” said O’Connor. “That’s a good year.”