Third grader’s Christmas wish to cook for the hungry

Santa with Edan

POUGHKEEPSIE – As City of Poughkeepsie firefighters were working to fulfill Christmas wishes for several families, one wish stood out, according to Fire Department Lieutenant Paul Bucher.  “A 10-year-old boy asked for a few small gifts and food so he could cook for the hungry.”

Clinton Elementary School third-grader Edan Bretton told his mom, Shenel Flemmings-Martin, that he wanted a tablet, a pair of shoes, and food to prepare for the hungry, as his entire Christmas wish list.  When Flemmings-Martin relayed the request to Bucher, the lieutenant was humbled.  “We have never had a request like that, and I knew that we had to make it happen.”

On Wednesday, the firefighters purchased 100 pounds of chicken, 100 pounds of potatoes, 20 pounds of onions, 40 pounds of cabbage, 15 pounds of carrots, and 40 pounds of rice and delivered them to the Flemmings household for preparation.

The meals will be cooked and served at the Gannett House shelter on Christmas Day.

Cooking comes naturally to the child, according to his mother.  “I am preparing to open my own Jamaican restaurant on Main Street, Shenel’s Kitchen, and my son is always with me because he is interested in everything I do,” said the native of Jamaica.

Asked if she was surprised by her son’s Christmas list, Flemmings-Martin said, “I wasn’t surprised at all.  My son learned manners and respect at an early age and he knows that it is important to help others.”

The firefighters normally purchase a Kindle device when a child asks for a tablet.  The firefighters of IAFF Local 596 decided that Bretton deserved something special, so they purchased an iPad for Santa to deliver, along with other gifts on Thursday.

Santa Claus met with Edan in his living room and praised him for his initiative.  “What you are doing is very special,” Santa told him. “It’s so special that I wanted to come and visit you in person and tell you how thoughtful you are.”  The soft-spoken child thanked Santa and the firefighters for the presents as the men regrouped to visit the next family on the list.

Christa Hines, Executive Director of Hudson River Housing, the agency that runs the shelter, praised the child’s initiative.  “We are beyond grateful to this young man and his mother for giving themselves in this way.  It is so rare to find a 10-year-old child who would rather spend his time and gifts on others.  He has truly put meaning into the holiday and will help to give hundreds a very merry Christmas.”

Flemmings-Martin told Mid-Hudson News that she and her son were going to begin prepping and seasoning the food on Thursday night before heading to the Gannett House on Christmas Day.