Charlotte Firefighters Play Santa on Christmas Eve

By: Alex Goldsmith Email
By: Alex Goldsmith Email

It's Christmas Eve and Santa Claus is going door-to-door dropping off presents.

But this year Santa is trading in his sleigh for a fire truck.

The Charlotte Fire Department teamed up with the community to put on Christmas Kiddies. 6 volunteer firefighters dress up as Santa and ride around making deliveries of Christmas presents and toys at more than 200 stops for more than 500 children.

It's been a Christmas tradition for more than a century, going back to the days when Charlotte firefighters would bring needy families presents with horse-drawn carriages. The bad economy has made the program more necessary than ever.

"It just grows and grows and grows," said David Howe, who has helped out with Christmas Kiddies for more than 25 years. "I think there's a lot of boys and girls that could use some help around Christmas time and that's where we come in."

There isn't a lengthy application process for the program. If a family feels it needs help, all they have to do is put in a call to the fire department, who will follow up and learn a little more about the family's needs.

Supporters of Christmas Kiddies are proud of the fact that it's fully supported by the fire department and community donations.

"There's not a cent of administrative cost," said Neil Klaiss, a retired firefighter. "Anything that isn't donated is paid for by the firefighters."

"We like to call it the purest form of charity," said Kevin Fullerton, Charlotte's fire chief.

Fullerton might not have become a firefighter himself without the program.

"My father was a recipient of Chirstmas Kiddies growing up," said Fullerton. "He went on to join the fire department and wanted to give back and I saw that through him and then my son saw that through me."

Fullerton went

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