Instead of toys, kids ask Santa for families' basic needs

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Somehow, Santa always seems to know what good boys and girls need at Christmas -- especially when he gets some help from lots of police officers and firefighters.

The jolly old elf and Mrs. Claus had quite the ride on a Hillsborough County fire engine to DeSoto Elementary School in Tampa. The kids were excited to see them, of course.

As part of the Sincerely Santa program, kids wrote him letters in September, letting Santa know what they want for Christmas. But most of their lists did not ask for toys.  These kids asked for the basics, like shoes and socks, and items their families need, like diapers.

Retired Tampa police officer Ricky Wade reads those letters.  He's been with Sincerely Santa from the beginning -- 31 years ago.

“The girl said all she wants for Christmas is her very own toothbrush because she's tired of using her brother's toothbrush. It really touches your heart. Sometimes you'll hear a kid write about their mom, who's never had a dress before,” Wade said.

He says even the parents don't know what their children have asked for, so they get pretty emotional when the donations come in and go under the tree for Christmas day.

Sincerely Santa has helped Christmas wishes come true for more than 100,000 at-risk children since it started.

LINK: For information on the program, visit