Children surprised by Santa in Adopt-A-Family Christmas program

Children surprised by Santa in Adopt-A-Family Christmas program

“CHICO — 2-year-old Silas Somsak’s eyes widened as Santa Claus smiled and walked toward him.

Right outside their door sat toys in wrapping paper, warm clothes and a large ham dinner — a quintessential Christmas hand delivered by none other than Santa and his elves; the “elves” being the Chico Firefighters Association Local 2734 volunteers.

The association celebrated its 26th annual Adopt-A-Family Christmas program coordinated by retired Chico fire inspector Marie Fickert. The program partners with agencies working with low income families and delivers toys and clothes donated by the community.

“It is so great that you can do this for us,” parent Earlene Harris said to Fickert during a delivery. “Sometimes it just gets so hard throughout the year, you know.”

Fickert said that they worked with an agency to find families in need and give them a form to submit their children’s wish list to Santa Claus. Then, they gather donations and deliver them via Chico fire trucks.

Jessica Wilson was a recipient of the program and was able to get her children Hunter Edwards and Lucas Edwards some gifts.

“I finally have a weekend to relax. I work a ton, so it’s hard to spend time with the kids without having laundry, dishes, stuff like that.” Wilson said. “It’s perfect because we get to actually sit down and enjoy this.”

Fickert said the program’s donations come from donation barrels managed by New Earth Market, Chico Walmart and the Amber Grove Neighborhood; and is supported by William Jones of SERVPRO.

  • 4-year-old Hunter Edwards, left, and 7-year-old Lucas Edwards watch Santa Claus come to their door in Chico, California on Saturday, Dec. 18 2021. (Michael Weber/Enterprise-Record)

  • Amanda Morris watches daughter 1-year-old Elsie Dixon take a gift handed by Santa Claus in Chico, California on Saturday, Dec. 18 2021. (Michael Weber/Enterprise-Record)

  • Santa Claus steps out of a retired chico fire truck in Chico, California on Saturday, Dec. 18 2021. (Michael Weber/Enterprise-Record)

  • Volunteers for the Adopt-A-Family Christmas program carry donations nearby Chico fire trucks at Hope Commons Church in Chico, California on Saturday, Dec. 18 2021. (Michael Weber/Enterprise-Record)

  • 2-year-old Silas Somsak sits on a retired Chico fire truck and fist bumps Santa Claus in Chico, California on Saturday, Dec. 18 2021. (Michael Weber/Enterprise-Record)

  • 5-year-old Allie Valine receives a gift from Santa and stands next to 9-year-old brother Zaiden Duletsky, mother Megan Jones and baby sister Everly Peddicord Chico, California on Saturday, Dec. 18 2021. (Michael Weber/Enterprise-Record)

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“Even though it was pouring rain, neighbors walked their toys over; they drove by and rolled their window down and handed their toys out,” Fickert said. “They really have the spirit of Christmas despite really bad weather.”

Fickert’s father was a lieutenant for the Butte County Sheriff’s department and started a toy drive with some of the employees. Fickert said they would find low-income families and have Santa Claus riding in a squad car to deliver the toys back in the day.

“I grew up helping my father do that program. And I wanted to do that for the fire department when I got hired,” Fickert said. “I wanted to carry on our family legacy from my childhood. I just wanted to be the next generation and have the torch passed to just be able to help our community.”

The Chico Fire association met Saturday morning at Hope Commons Church and prepared their cars with donations for 60 children in 25 families. During the deliveries, extra toys were given to the neighborhood kids who saw Santa riding in the fire trucks.

“I love keeping the Tradition of Christmas alive,” Earlene Harris said. “As much as I feel our kids are desensitized today with electronics and streaming, it’s nice that the easter bunny and Santa still mean something.”

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