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December 24, 2003

Santa drops by Walden School

From: Framingham Metro West Daily News, MA - Dec 24, 2003

By Charlie Breitrose / News Staff
Writer Wednesday, December 24, 2003

FRAMINGHAM -- Santa made an early delivery Friday when he dropped off gifts for children at the Walden School for Deaf Children who don't have family to see during the holidays.

Jolly St. Nick and firefighter Bob Morrison delivered presents to more than a dozen children with the help of Lt. Paul Gildea.

The children gathered in the cafeteria of Walden School -- which serves deaf children with emotional problems -- but they didn't know who the special guest would be.

The students rushed to greet Santa as he came in the room. He then handed out something special to each student. Some sat on his lap and posed for pictures with him.

Francesca Laventare, a 21-year-old student, smiled as she held the set of colored pens and pencils delivered by Santa.

"The staff didn't tell us a thing," she said. "I couldn't guess who was coming."

Laventare planned to make some holiday-inspired drawings with her new art supplies.

Jessica Noonan, 15, hugged her green Care Bear after Santa rode away on a fire truck.

"I always wanted this one," Noonan said.

Santa's visit wasn't a secret to Noonan, she said, because she saw a conversation in sign language about the special guest.

"I knew he was coming," Noonan said. "I was being a little mischievous and saw what the staff was saying."

The visit may never have happened if Gildea had not been at the school doing a fire safety check.

"I was here on an inspection and I hear people saying there were some kids who would be here over the holidays," Gildea said. "We have done a program in Boston for many years, but we wanted to do something locally."

Members of the Fire Department chipped in more than $2,500, Gildea said, for the two toy drives.

The firefighters will return Christmas Day to deliver turkey, roast beef and other fixings for the holiday dinner. The food was donated by Stop & Shop.

The students invited Santa to stay and enjoy some doughnuts that had been put out for them, but he said he had to be going.

"I've got to get back on the sled," he said. "I have other stops to make."

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