SANTA MAKES AN EARLY VISIT TO THE FRIENDLY CITY
Volunteers of all ages distributed toys, food and clothes to the families of Fortuna Fire Department’s Santa Sleigh Service program on Christmas Eve morning.
"Our committee starts in September, meeting and putting things together,” said Fortuna Fire Chief Lon Winburn. “And then we have a toy drive coordinator that works with Toys For Tots and the Board For Realtors."
Chief Winburn says the program started in 1987 to give children who couldn't leave their house an opportunity to meet Santa. Delivering the presents on the sleigh wasn't added until later.
"This part of the program started in the early 90's, I believe," Chief Winburn said.
An entourage of cars with volunteers follows the two sleighs around town. About 50 volunteers came out to help those in need.
"It's good to go and help out the community,” volunteer Tanner Mendes said. “It's good to go out and help others who might not have money to spend."
This year there we’re about 100 families in need.
Pam berry coordinated the clothes for the families and made sure the right presents went to the right kids.
"The big garbage bag has individual wrapped presents in it with every child’s name on it," Berry said.
The route is designed to give enough time for Santa to hang out with the families.
"It’s not something where we just drop toys and food off,” said Route Coordinator Ricky Ruude. “He [Santa] actually intermingles with the family."