Since 1906 Christmas Kiddies has provided the children of Charlotte with toys and gifts they may have otherwise not received. Originally the brainchild of local business owners and later adopted by the fire department, the Charlotte Christmas Eve tradition is a reminder of the many ways first responders serve their community.

The Charlotte Fire Department collects toys year round for Christmas Kiddies. From Christmas to Christmas the department accepts monetary and toy donations, then places bins and canisters throughout the community by Thanksgiving. This year the department has collected about $8,000 for Christmas Kiddies, and will make about 170 toy stops for nearly 500 children.

“It’s the purest form of charity you can have,” said Tyger Fullerton, assistant fire chief for CFD. “Everything goes back to the kids.”

Tyger, who officially joined the fire department in 2007, said he hasn’t missed a Christmas Eve with the fire trucks in 28 years. It’s a tradition that goes back in his family long before his time, however.

Tyger’s grandfather, Cal Fullerton, was also a member of the CFD, and he was also a recipient of Christmas Kiddies toys as a child. When he later grew up and joined the fire department he was able to give back to the same community that gave to him.

It’s the circular giving that continues to amaze Tyger and other Charlotte residents year after year.

“Many families in need give back somehow, or donate following years,” said Tyger.

Like so many years before, four fire trucks will leave the station around 5:30 p.m., follow six routes, making stops throughout residential neighborhoods and surrounding townships, and will return around 9 p.m. Children will press their faces against window panes, or wait eagerly by the door as Santa and his helpers roll up on a fire engine.

But there is still work to be done before the delivery. Tyger and the rest of the CFD encourage readers to stop by the downtown fire station in Charlotte to help wrap toys on Saturday, Dec. 16 at 9 a.m. There is also an opportunity to come to a spaghetti dinner fundraiser at the Charlotte Senior Center later that evening. Anyone is welcome, and donations are requested.

It’s often said that it’s the simple things that make life enjoyable. In Charlotte, Christmas Kiddies is one of the simple delights of Christmas Eve. The lights, the trucks, and the toys are simple and special deliveries that make adults feel glad and kids feel valued.