One of the popular draws at several of the Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firemen’s Fund annual fundraisers is the photo booth. Children (and plenty of ladies) enjoy the opportunity to meet LAFD firefighters and have a picture taken with them to commemorate the occasion.

Marilou de la Cruz Pico has been a volunteer for five years, working in the photo booth at Hope for Firefighters. She initially became involved because her friend Eric Santiago, a Firemen’s Relief Association employee, brought her on board to help. “After seeing how busy his photo booth got, everyone smiling and laughing, and the money it raised for such a worthy cause, I realized my time was well spent. Now, I’m the one asking him when the next event will take place and to make sure to count me in.”

Hope for Firefighters is the biggest annual fundraiser for Widows & Orphans, so it’s no surprise that volunteering for the photo booth is a busy task. “I assisted with set-up, organization, crowd control, posing & printing, mailing lists, cash handling, the auction and clean-up,” Marilou said. However, it’s not all hard work. Having spent time volunteering, Marilou enjoys seeing another side of the firefighters. “They’re a lot of fun and they can cook a mean BBQ.”

What originally started as a favor to a friend has given Marilou a strong appreciation for all the good that Widows & Orphans does. “There is so much sacrifice involved as a firefighter and this fund helps to reassure firefighters and their families that they will be provided for.”

Marilou certainly has plenty to fill her time when she’s not volunteering. In addition to being the mother of two children, she states that “I enjoy spending my free time giving back to the community through various charities both locally and nationally. I love the theatre, playing volleyball and spending quality time with my family and friends.”

Above all, Marilou is a proud Angeleno who knows the important role that the LAFD plays in the community. “I was born and raised in Los Angeles and am thankful for all our dedicated firefighters.”

By Candace Nicholson