CHICAGO (WLS) -- It has been an undeniably difficult year for the Chicago Fire Department, losing four firefighters in the line of duty.
On Monday, the department supported the families of those who died in service. They gave a check for $460,000 to 436 families of fallen firefighters.
Jennifer Mayoski lost her husband, Jason, in 2012.
"They've been there since day one with us," Mayoski said. "The CFD community is amazing. They are our second family."
Their kids were there on Monday to accept the financial and educational assistance granted by the department's EMWQ Retirees, Widows and Children's Fund.
"It means that they haven't forgotten about us. They haven't forgotten about any of the following firefighters or paramedics. And, this is actually coming from Chicago Fire Department, members and paramedics. They are the ones who are making these donations. So, that's huge," Mayoski said.
"There were widows who were going to be evicted. We were able to help them with their rent. We had widows, who didn't have electricity in their homes. We were able to pay for that. And, it's all because of the generosity of the people the city of Chicago," said Anthony Martin with the EMWQ Retirees, Widows and Children's Fund.
The year 2023 was unprecedented, losing Firefighter Andrew Price in November, Lieutenant Kevin Ward in August and Firefighter Jermaine Pelt and Lieutenant Jan Tchoryk in April.
Pelt's 7-year-old son, Jared, was also there on Monday, receiving $11,000 from the Jermaine A. Pelt Memorial Fund, the foundation set up after he died.
"They put their life on the line every day for us and run toward danger, just to keep us safe, and it means the world to us to know that these foundations exist, because they are needed," said Ariana Roby, Jared's mother.
"To the families who didn't have the means in the past, this has been very bad. And, just to have these donations, especially at Christmas for the families to let them know that we do care. The sacrifice that their loved ones made it matters, and we are never going to forget," said CFD Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt.
"As sad as it is, they're always by our sides," Mayoski said.