The Orange Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary has run its Santa’s Helper program for 22 years.
Aside from the Carnival, Santa’s Helper is the department’s biggest fundraiser of the year.
If you didn’t know, Santa’s Helper takes place each year on a weekend day, one week before Christmas. The Orange Volunteer firefighters help Santa deliver gifts to kids in participating families. Santa arrives on a fire truck with lights and sirens right to your home and Santa, and elf or two and firefighters come into your home to spend a few moments or more with the kids.
In some cases, Santa has been coming to the same homes for 20 years or longer. Boys and girls who were drinking juice from a bottle or sippy cup, are now drinking Corona from a bottle or sipping from a glass of wine when Santa arrives.
At one house, the kids, most that are now adults, sit in the living room and wait for the jolly old elf while the adults gather in the kitchen, dining room and other areas of the home and peek in to watch the fun.
Once Santa is settled into his comfy chair, the “kids” start singing a Christmas carol as they have for nearly two decades.
One by one Santa hands out all the presents — about 23 of them this year — and EVERYONE has to sit on Santa’s lap, even the 6-foot tall, 200 pound muscle man (And They Do!)
One rule is that no one is allowed to open their gift (not even the toddlers) until everyone in the room has one. Then the place explodes with wrapping paper.
The party host brings Santa a cup of soda with a Krazy Straw, and the kids sing another carol for him, before everyone gathers in front of the Christmas Tree for a group photo.
Santa said he treasures this kind of long-term relationship. “It’s great seeing them grow up and eventually have children of their own. I look forward to hearing my song every year and catching up with everyone,” Santa told Orange Live. “This is the best part of Santa’s Helper and I thank the Orange Firemen for offering me a ride and hanging out with me for this event which is as special to me as it is to the families I visit.”