The San Marino Firefighters’ Association is teaming up with a San Marino charity to help children who have a parent who is battling cancer.
The firefighters presented a $1,000 check to Hot for Hope on Monday, Oct. 10. Mikey, 10, and Emily Yessaian, 9, who started Hot for Hope in 2015, and a few friends were then taken on a station tour by the firefighters.
The SMFA is the union that represents San Marino Fire Department members.
The SMFA donation – and other donations to Hot for Hope – are used to purchase items to create care packages for children and teens of different age groups. The care packages contain a book about what the child or teen may be going through and a stuffed animal.
“Emily and Mikey have given out 100 care packages via Hot for Hope and their goal is to give 500 care packages nationwide to patients all over the country,” the siblings’ mom, Jenny Yessaian, said.
San Marino firefighters found out about Hot for Hope when they were doing an inspection on the charity’s new office location along Huntington Drive several months ago.
“We really wanted to get involved,” San Marino Firefighter/Paramedic Jeff Tsay said. “We’re trying to plan another day when we can actually take the kids in the fire engine down to one of the local hospitals to give away the care packages that they have.”
“I think it’s really nice of them,” Mikey said.
“I thought it was amazing,” Yessaian said. “Just the support that they wanted to give to the kids’ nonprofit was great.”
She said the donation would allow Hot for Hope to create many more care packages for children who have a parent with cancer.
“We’re really excited,” Yessaian said. “It’s a great partnership.”
Tsay said every firefighter contributes to the San Marino Firefighters’ Association on a monthly basis and it is able to donate some funds to local charities. He said, “Cancer hits home when it comes to firefighting. I know a number of firefighters who have gotten cancer, skin cancer and different types of cancer because of what we’re exposed to on a daily basis.”
Tsay said Hot for Hope is an amazing organization, especially since it was started by two children, that there was no way SMFA wasn’t going to support it.
Bryan Frieders, one of San Marino Fire Department’s battalion chiefs, is deeply involved with the American Cancer Society and speaks around the country about cancer, Tsay said. He said he hopes to connect the Yessaian children with him so they may be able to talk about Hot for Hope at one of his events.
Mikey and Emily began raising money for Hot for Hope by selling hot chocolate and coffee at a stand in front of their Sherwood Road house, which was conveniently located near the back entrance of their school, Valentine Elementary. Many Valentine students and families as well as pedestrians purchased beverages and made donations at the stand. The Yessaian children also have had teddy bear drives at Valentine Elementary. The Yessaians have since moved and will have the Hot for Hope stand at rotating locations. Hot for Hope is now partnering with East Coast hospitals, such as Massachusetts General Hospital. It’s also been working with USC and UCLA.
In other recent news, Hot for Hope now has a board of directors, which includes actors Courtney Vance and Angela Bassett in addition to San Marino resident Colleen McGuinness. The latter is the sister of San Marino native Patrick Martin, who passed away in 2012 after battling leukemia. He couldn’t be in direct sunlight and longed for a spot in the shade where he could be close to his children while they played. Two trees in Lacy Park were dedicated to Martin in June.