Santa arrives a few days early at Lacey Fire District 3

Santa Claus doesn’t usually ask grownups what they want for Christmas.

But if he did, Amy Charles said she would have just one wish.

“A home,” the 32-year-old Lacey woman said, blinking away tears, as she waited with her three children in line to visit the jolly elf at Lacey Fire District 3 headquarters.

About 25 families were invited to the fire station on Sunday afternoon for the Santa’s Workshop event, a collaboration of several organizations, including Lacey Fire, the Lacey Mid Day Lions Club, Lacey police and North Thurston Public Schools.

Lacey Fire has adopted families at Christmas time for about 17 years, Lt. Patrick Harn said.

Each year, crews raise thousands of dollars to buy toys, gift cards and baskets of necessities such as laundry soap for the event.

“We have an annual golf tournament, and a fire-and-ice basketball game,” Harn said.

Organizers work with the school district to identify specific families for the event.

“They truly know the needs of the families,” Harn said.

Crews used to drive Santa in a firetruck to make the deliveries at individual homes, but a lot of times, they’d end up at a low-income apartment complex where other kids were disappointed that he wasn’t there to visit them, Harn said.

This was the second year they’ve held it at the fire station. The new venue gives Santa time to visit more families; it also gave organizers a chance to expand it to include crafts, an ice cream truck, live performances, holiday snacks and other activities.

“I think it’s really nice,” Charles said. “It comes at a time of need for us.”

Sabrina Davis, 37, of Lacey described the event as “absolutely fantastic.”

Her 7-year-old daughter, Emma Chambers, said she was surprised that Santa brought the Disney “Frozen” singing Elsa doll that she had asked for.

“It was awesome,” Emma said, as she hugged the new doll — box and all.