Children in welfare system get Christmas surprise

ROYAL PALM BEACH, Fla. - "Grandma's House" is a loving place, but it's not where children expect to spend Christmas.  Some children arrive in the middle of the night to the emergency shelter for children rescued from abuse or neglect by welfare workers.

On Christmas morning, fire trucks pulled up, and out stepped Santa Claus, a host of helpers and piles of gifts addressed to each child.

"Dasher's my favorite reindeer," one of the children called to the man with the snowy white beard.

Children can spend up to six months at this shelter.  A 12-year-old girl has spent the last three weeks at the home.

"I saw a fire truck and I was like, 'Do we have a fire?'  So, I ran out and then I saw presents and I'm like yeah!" she exclaimed.

Lt. Michael Delrossi organizes everything for the event every year.  First, he receives letters from the children.

"Probably the most touching one this year was a 12-year-old girl, and the only thing she wanted at the top of her list was to go home," he said.

As the group of firefighters and their family members sings Christmas carols and plays with the children, Delrossi explains the experience is one filled with personal meaning.

"When I was their age, when I was 3- to 5-years-old, I went through the foster care system.  I know it's not being with your family during the holidays," he said.

The 12-year-old who has stayed here explains, "I just want them to know that everybody in here is grateful for everything that everybody does."

The group from Palm Beach County Fire Rescue visits "Grandma's House" every Christmas, Easter and Halloween.

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