Charlotte fireman Chris Sloan walked around the station Wednesday, Dec. 11 knowing what would take shape in just a couple days. A few toys were placed on tables, taking up nearly half the space at the downtown Charlotte Fire Station … the calm before the storm.

Sloan said the volunteers had yet to go out and purchase the rest of the toys needed to hand out to more than 500 Charlotte area children on Christmas Eve. The Charlotte Fire Department’s Christmas Kiddies program is one of the oldest traditions still going in the Charlotte community. All members of the Charlotte Fire Department take part in the program each year, sacrificing part of their Christmas Eve to spread a little joy to families in the area that could use a little holiday cheer.

“They all get a little nervous this time of year,” said Charlotte Fire Chief Kevin Fullerton about the amount of work that takes place in a few short weeks. “But, one way or another, it always gets done.”

The downtown station will soon be overflowing with toys and other gifts that will need to be wrapped and boxed in preparation for nearly 200 stops that have to be made on Christmas Eve.

Delivery is split up through six different routes, each complete with Santa Claus, an honor the volunteer firefighters take very seriously.

Of course it takes a tremendous amount of generosity from the community to help the volunteers meet the needs of so many in the community. Hundreds of community members drop money in Christmas Kiddies canisters located throughout Charlotte from the end of November through December. Businesses and organizations also step forward in support each holiday season.

Canisters are currently located in stores and restaurants throughout the Charlotte area. Donations of toys can be dropped off at the Charlotte Fire Department at City Hall. Toys should be for either a boy or girl ranging from infant through age 13.

Next week, we’ll get to know a few of the Santas that help to make Christmas Kiddies such a time-honored tradition in Charlotte.