Last month, the deadly Camp Fire in California left at least 85 people dead and nearly 14,000 families without a home.
Most of the destruction occurred in the town of Paradise, prompting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to set up a recovery center at the nearby Chico Mall.
It’s the same mall where families, still working to get their lives back together, are taking their young children to see Santa as the holiday season gears up.
And as the mall’s Santa told CNN, many of the children are making a heartbreaking request.
Jim Hoskins, who prefers to be called Santa, said that many of the children who see him are smiling and positive.
However, he said many of them come wishing for something extra special that he just can’t give. They ask for a new home for their family, he revealed.
The Chico Mall Santa said that he does his best to assure them that they’ll have a place to live someday. He told CNN:
“I usually say ‘I can’t do this in a year. I don’t have the magic to do it right now, but we will get you one.’ I can’t give them instant gratification on that, but I can give them some satisfaction that it will be done.”
He added that many of the children worry Santa won’t be able to find them because they don’t have a chimney:
“I say ‘I know your relatives and I’ve got GPS to track you with. It makes them feel better once their parents confirm it.”
Despite the children’s struggles, Hoskins said that their positivity is “astounding.”
Several GoFundMe campaigns have been started to collect toys for children affected by the Camp Fire and multiple have raised thousands already.
Thankfully, it seems the kindness of strangers will help many of the children have a joyous holiday, even after such a devastating time.