BOSTON — The kindly Santas of the Boston Emergency Medical Services union drove down Blue Hill Avenue Thursday with lights and sirens blaring to bring Christmas to children battling HIV and AIDS.
This is the 28th year members of the Boston Police Patrolmen s Association/Boston EMS Division have bought gifts with union dues, wrapped them and distributed them to children in the Supporting Parents and Resilient Kids (SPARK) program, and at Boston Medical Center s pediatric AIDS unit.
EMT Virgina Famolare organzied this year s gift-giving, and said while the union buys nearly all the gifts, Harvard University Business School donated several dozen toys this year as well.
Last night, dozens of EMS workers gathered in the basement of their Shetland Street headquarters that had been temporarily converted into a gift-wrapping emergency room.
Some EMS crews worked in teams of two, folding colored paper over a box, then, while one used bandage shears to cut the paper, a second folded it into sharp creases and tacked it down with clear tape.
Among the gift wrappers was Boston EMS Capt. George Murphy, 54, who for the past 28 years has filled in for Santa Claus and handed out toys dressed in the red suit when St. Nick couldn t make it himself.
He said there was a time when EMS crews passed out the gifts to different children each year because the illness claimed so many lives. He said that while medical advances are helping the children live longer, every season brings another reminder of the terrible toll the disease takes. He said he ll never forget the conversation he had with one tyke years ago while dressed as Santa Claus.He was outside. I bent down to talk to him, Murphy said. I asked if he d been good. Then I asked him what he wanted for Christmas. He said `No rash. It was a byproduct of having HIV.