Our Fire Department is starting a new tradition aimed to bring smiles and holiday cheer to children staying at the Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olsen Children's Hospital. On Tuesday, December 21, firefighters helped make sure children were able to see and interact with Santa Claus in a safe way.

Because of the COVID-19 precautions in place at the hospital, Santa was not able to go in and see patients. So the Fire Department put him on their truck's ladder, along with the Grinch.

"We know these children are going to be at the Children's Hospital probably through Christmas, and it just pulled at our heartstrings that they may not be able see Santa," said Interim Chief Shane Edwards. "We just wanted to put Santa at the windows of each of these children's rooms."

"It's not every day they see Santa in a bucket right outside of their windows. It brings a sense of joy and slice of peace for a bit for these patients," said Atrium Health Navicent Pediatric Service Line Director Missi Upshaw

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. "With the parents, for them to see their kids smile who may not have smiled in the last couple of days or hours. It also means a lot to our staff."

The idea started at the Fire Department's Christmas party a couple of weeks ago, when the firefighters went to look at the Christmas lights Downtown. During that route, one of the firefighters, Lt. Billy Strange, came up with the idea to do something with the Children's Hospital. Once Interim Chief Shane Edwards gave the department the green light, they worked with the hospital to get this done.

"We had a group of firefighters come together and pulled resources, off duty, and they got in touch with Santa Claus," said Interim Chief Edwards. "This is just one of those instances where our firefighters went above and beyond for the community."

The cold rain did not stop the Fire Department from spreading cheer. They hope to make this an annual tradition.

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