By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An organization devoted to helping burn victims distributed Christmas cheer Tuesday at Hennepin Healthcare in downtown Minneapolis.

The organization is called Firefighters for Healing and was founded by a former Minneapolis firefighter who was seriously injured fighting a house fire in July of 2010.

Jake LaFerriere was treated for burns at HCMC, and couldn’t fight fires anymore. He organized Tuesday’s effort, which brought four Minneapolis fire trucks filled with presents and packages to the hospital’s burn unit.

It’s the seventh year the organization has delivered gifts to HCMC’s burn unit.

“It provides a hope and a strength that they can get through this,” LaFerriere said. “It’s all about accompanying people in their struggles in this difficult time.”

LaFerriere knelt by burn survivor Julie Kiecker and presented her with gifts.

“I burned my hands in a fire just like yours,” LaFerriere said. “We just wanted to come here today and share a little of our love.”

Volunteers included Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who delivered a giant teddy bear, and singer and former Minnesota Vikings player Esera Tuaolo, who sang for everyone in the ward. That included Joyce Terwey, whose husband, JT, passed away from cancer after being treated at the burn unit for six months for burns suffered in a camper explosion.

LaFerriere has founded a summer camp in Cross Lake for burn victims. He is hoping to establish a residential center where burn victims and their families can stay while they receive treatment.

Esme Murphy