One at a time, they pulled into the empty bay at the Westfield Fire Department.
Masks hid their faces, but their eyes told a story.
Some were down on their luck.
Some were down on love.
Some were down on both.
But for 15 minutes on Saturday, they were embraced by the spirit of Christmas – the spirit of kindness, the spirit of giving, the spirit of love.
They were serenaded on the way in.
“We wish you a merry Christmas, we wish you a merry Christmas, we wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year…”
As Colts mascot, Blue, entertained them, his elves got to work – filling the car with presents for every member of the family.
Some wishes were small – a teapot, a blanket, some towels.
Other wishes were big – the Westfield Fire Department followed one family home with a dryer.
But they all came from a similar place – a desperate parent trying to provide for their family.
“My wife and I have been together for 16 years, but this is the first year where it’s just my income coming in,” said one father. “These people have made Christmas possible for my family. I’m touched.”
“It’s beautiful, it really is,” said one mother. “I’m so grateful.”
Not just for the gifts, but for the message wrapped up inside them.
“That people don’t have to be your family to be compassionate and care for one another,” said another mother. “If more people were like this, the world would be a much better place.”
For the fifth year, Blue gathered with family and friends to bring Christmas to Hoosier families in need.
For Trey Mock, the man behind Blue, it’s become a beloved family tradition.
But like so many other things – this year, they wondered if it would happen.
“Not because we didn’t want to do it,” he said. “It was more how were we going to do it.”
In the end, they decided to do what so many others have done – and find a way.
“We needed to lift everybody’s spirits,” said his wife, Alison. “We had to be able to bring these families some happiness and joy, something to look forward to.”
A chance encounter led them to how.
“One of our dogs had snuck out of our house,” said Trey. “I got a phone call and it was the Westfield Police Department saying, ‘We have Sasha.’”
He returned the favor by showing up at their Halloween drive-thru as Blue. While he was there, he asked if they knew of a place where he could host a Christmas drive-thru.
They suggested Firehouse 83 in Westfield.
Hosting a Westfield family that wanted to give back to other families, some of them from Westfield – it was a perfect pairing.
“These people are the ones that are paying our wages here and this is part of our service – giving back,” said Battalion Chief Tom Cline. “We always try to give back to the people that give to us. That makes us a big, happy community and it makes us a big, happy family.”
Now, they’re part of Blue’s family.
“We want to get even more involved,” Cline said. “I think we’re going to team up from this point forward.”
It may have looked different this year, but what it lacked in contact, it made up for in meaning.
“This year has been tough because we’re used to socializing. For eight months now, we have’t been able to do that,” said Trey. “It’s hard to communicate with people and see people’s expressions through masks. But this connection of getting to know people so deeply through their needs and wants for Christmas, then helping to deliver that – it kind of renews that spirit.”
Seeing the spirit grow in their children, Gunnar and Tegan, warms their parents’ hearts.
“It took me so long in my life to realize the importance of helping others and using my platform to help others,” Trey said. “And to know that a 4-year-old and a 7-year-old are seeing that and living that, it really makes me a proud parent.”
“We want them to know it’s better to give than receive and that’s what this time of year is all about,” Alison said. “I just want them to grow up with a servant heart.”
In a year that was mostly about distancing, bringing people together was a gift itself.
“I feel like not only the families, but those of us who participate in this – we needed it more than ever,” said Samantha Humes. “To still find a way to come together and make it work and bring some happiness to people and to ourselves – that’s really meaningful.”
“It’s one of those feelings that you can’t quite describe,” said Barbara Humes. “They’re touched, because you can see their tears. But if they only knew how much it meant to the rest of us – it means just as much to us.”
With their cars full of gifts and their hearts full of gratitude, a chorus of merry Christmases followed each family out.
And as each car drove out of sight, young Tegan Mock exclaimed, “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!”