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December 2, 2003

Lacey Santa takes holiday wishes from deaf children

From: The Olympian, WA - Dec 2, 2003


LACEY -- Deaf children will again be able to talk to Santa directly to tell him what they want for Christmas.

A signing Santa will be at the Saint Martin's Norman Worthington Conference Center from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday to visit with deaf children and gather their Christmas wishes. It's the eighth year Santa will use sign language to communicate with local children.

"We get deaf people from all over southwest Washington and as far north as Tacoma," said Kathleen Burns of Lacey's Parks and Recreation Department. "We have about 300 or more people who come. It's great for the deaf society. It grows every year."

Santa is an American Sign Language teacher and he volunteers every year, said Betty Kieler of Random Acts of Kindness of Thurston County. "He's wonderful. The kids can really relate to him," she said.

This year, Random Acts of Kindness will provide the stuffed animals the children get as gifts, as well as film for the instant photos. The Thurston County Association of the Deaf also helps sponsor the event.

Kieler said the evening has a special feeling and is especially quiet to those who are able to hear.

"Families come and everyone is visiting, but I kept waiting for the music to start," Kieler said.

The best part?

"It's wonderful to watch the little bitty ones, 2 and 3 and 4 years old," she said.

Free Polaroid pictures will be taken, and refreshments will be provided. An interpreter will be available. Burns said college students involved with the American Sign Language program have been invited to help.

©2003 The Olympian