CHICAGO — Chicago Fire Department officials on Tuesday helped deliver thousands of dollars to the loved ones of firefighters who lost their lives while serving the city.

“It restores your faith in humanity when you have so many generous firemen out there. This is important to them,” said Tony Martin, president of the EMWQ Retirees’, Widows’ and Children’s Assistance Fund.

Among those thankful is Jennifer Mayoski, who lost her husband, Jason, suddenly back in 2012.

“My husband has been gone for 10 years. This is the 11th Christmas without him,” she said.

The Chicago fire engineer died at age 37 of a heart attack. He served the city of Chicago for 16 years.

“He was 21 when he got on and that was his second family; we were his first and that was his second family,” Mayoski said.

Most of Jason’s family were only babies when the father of three passed away.

“My daughter was one week away from her first birthday. My son was two and my other son was three,” Mayoski said.

The family was on hand for the check presentaion at the 11th Street Firehouse, with Jennifer Mayoski noting the organization’s generousity over the years.

The donation, Martin says, is an effort to make the holidays a little easier.

“There’s about 350 recipients between the widows and children that will be divided up between all of them,” he said.

Among those getting a split of the donations are the Bucio brothers, sons of Juan Bucio, whose service to the city started when he became a lifeguard before working as a police officer for three years. Then, the fire department came calling and in 2007 he became a CFD diver. Bucio died while responding to a call on Memorial Day 2018, searching for a person in the Chicago River on the near Southside. 

“It’s always good to see them this time of the year with smiles on their faces,” Martin said.

Much of the money, WGN News has learned, comes from city firefighters and paramedics, providing another example of how Chicago first responders aim to have each others back. Anyone interested in donating may do so by clicking here.

“We are a family, dysfunctional sometimes, but we are the Chicago Fire Department,” Martin said. “We’re a family. We’re there for each other, not just our city but for each other which makes this job so great.”