NATIONAL CITY - It’s the one time of the year when East 3rd Street in National City transforms into Santa’s workshop.
Charlene King’s husband, known as Santa Frank, started the Christmas With Kids program almost 50 years ago, gathering donations of bikes and toys to give away on Christmas Day. Frank and Charlene and a lot of volunteers started fixing up bikes, buying new ones and collecting toys to give to kids in the neighborhood. When Frank passed away five years ago, his friends in the biking community stepped up to keep it alive.
But this year a shortage of donations threatened the annual tradition. 10News was there last week as organizers took an inventory of how many children they’d be able to help. And after our story appeared, the donations started flowing. "We started getting toys in right away," Charlene said.
It was a huge relief for King as she watched each child pick a bike and get fitted for a helmet.
Some children even brought something for Santa. Said King, “we get more out of it than the kids do."
Thanks to the donations and support from the community, this year they were able to give away 200 bikes, which is more than they gave away last year. Even on the morning of distribution, the donations kept coming, including a secret Santa who dropped off a new bike he'd just bought.
Frank King's dream lives on. "He always wished that every child could have at least 1 toy for Christmas," said Charlene. He was a very special person and loved children."
And as each child walked away with their Christmas present in tow, you could tell their hearts were filled with a little extra holiday cheer.
If you'd like to contribute or learn more, click on Christmas With Kids.