Most kids spend time looking through store widows, walking down toy aisles or browsing page after page of treasures in the internet. But in one Florida town, some police officers and firefighters were surprised to find that the “wish list” on many kids minds has shifted away from trucks and doll houses.
Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus usually know what good boys and girls want at Christmas. The pair was offering a ride on a Hillsborough County fire engine at the DeSoto Elementary School in Tampa. The children were visibly excited to see the North Pole couple.
As part of the Sincerely Santa program, children were asked to write Santa letters in September, letting Santa know what they wanted for Christmas.
Those in charge of the program were surprised that their lists did not ask for toys. The requests from the kids were for the basics, like shoes and socks, and items their families needed including diapers.
Retired Police Officer Ricky Wade was one of those who read those letters. He’s been with Sincerely Santa from the beginning – 31 years ago.
“The girl said all she wants for Christmas is her very own toothbrush because she’s tired of using her brother’s toothbrush. It really touches your heart. Sometimes you’ll hear a kid write about their mom, who’s never had a dress before,” Tampa Police Officer Ricky Wade said.
He says even the parents don’t know what their children have asked for, so they get pretty emotional when the donations come in and go under the tree for Christmas day.
This program in Tampa has helped Christmas wishes come true for more than 100,000 at-risk children since it started. But today, instead of receiving a wish list with legos and games, it is receiving requests for items that usually are on a weekly shopping list.