Buses filled with elves to deliver toys to hundreds of kids with serious illnesses

AMITYVILLE, New York -- A fleet of buses filled with elves and toys will spread out across the region on Sunday, delivering gifts to over 400 children coping with life-threatening illnesses and trauma.

What began years ago as one couple's donation of some extra holiday gifts to families in need has turned into the nonprofit KiDS NEED MoRE, which makes the rounds on Long Island and parts of New York City every holiday to spread good cheer to families who can really use it.

Melissa Firmes, president and co-founder of KiDS NEED MoRE, is herself recovering from leukemia but is as determined as ever to come through for the kids, even with the pandemic.

"We are leading 20 buses filled with elves that are going to bring holiday cheer to all of these amazing kids," Firmes. "Kids that have dealt with tough stuff, stuff that you don't want to deal with. You know the cancer and the COVID, all the trauma. The holidays cannot be stopped."

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2020 marks the group's sixth year conducting the KNM HoLiDAY CHEER BUS Elf Ride.

The event started in 2014 when Firme's husband, Johnny Ray, had the fateful idea to donate their extra holiday gifts.

Related: Teen celebrates 10 years of giving back to kids in hospitals with her annual toy drive

Their simple act of generosity morphed into a nonprofit that has grown larger every year, with more volunteers and even more drop-offs.

"It's all for kids coping with life-threatening illnesses on the island, in the boroughs, all around the tri-state area," Ray said. "It's all donated by wonderful amazing people who care about the community."


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