“I was horrified. I just couldn’t believe (it). I mean, as you can see, we don’t have much. It’s not the prettiest house, it’s not the greatest place, but what we have is what we have, and it’s hard to replace it,” said Sullivan.
Sullivan thought this Christmas was ruined, but then he got a call from firefighters in Pierce County.
"I was sitting there bawling on the phone, crying," he said.
Firefighters heard what happened and invited Brett and his fiancée, Tracy, to go Christmas shopping to buy presents for their children, Mikinzi, 5, and Marcus, 3.
“A lot of the stuff we live off of is secondhand or thrift stores or OfferUp, so to actually go through and try to figure out what to buy and what to get that’s brand-new and looking at a lot of the prices on them is more than we’re ever used to spending,” he said. “This will probably be one of the kids' biggest Christmases thanks to the fire department.”
Christmas shopping is a tradition Local 726, the firefighters' union, has done for a decade. Every year, they help about 15 families who are down on their luck.
“It’s kind of evolved over the last 10 years. It started as just providing Christmas meals to people and doing food drives to really seeing that the community supports us, and there’s a lot of people that are in need around the holidays, so it’s our way to be able to give back to our community,” said firefighter Jasper Stenstrom.
It's an act of kindness the Sullivan family said changed their lives this Christmas.
"It's going to make their year. I mean, to end the year horribly and then to start the year anew is going to be beyond wonderful," said Sullivan.
Each family chosen gets about $500 to spend on holiday shopping. The money comes from local partnerships, donations and firefighters.
If you'd like to help, you can donate to the benevolent fund by visiting the Pierce County Firefighters' website, https://www.iaff726.org.