Santa Claus brought Christmas cheer to a group of deaf children in Washington, DC, last week.
Charles Graves, also known as Santa Charles, is one of the few deaf Santas in the country and communicates with children using American Sign Language (ASL).
"There are a lot of hearing Santas out there," Graves told DCist through ASL translator Anthony Mowl. "And for that child to be able to look up to somebody who's like them … that's why I do this."
Last Monday, Santa Charles appeared at Gaylord Hotel at National Harbor as children lined up and told him what they wanted for Christmas. According to CBN News, the District of Columbia is home to more than 20,000 deaf residents.
"[I told him] I want some new Vans shoes," eight-year-old Ramon Torres Morán told DCist in ASL through a translator. "I want a couple of Goosebumps books. And… a Rubik's Cube. And I want a really hard one, not just one of the regular squares. A really complicated one."
Other requests made by the kids included a skateboard and a Nintendo Switch. After every conversation, Santa hugs the kids and wishes them "Merry Christmas" in ASL.
"He just took my heart away," Mowl said. "Every child should be able to see a Santa that they can relate to, that they can understand, and is a reflection of themselves."
In addition to dressing up as the man in red, Charles works as a residential counselor at the Texas School for the Deaf, where he has helped deaf children for over two decades.
"My wife encouraged me to give it a try, and I put on the suit, and I realized I felt something in me," he told KABC-TV. "I could see it in the mirror. I felt like the real Santa Claus. It was magical."
Four-year-old Cleo Boudreault was said to be in "awe" after meeting a Santa who can communicate in the same way she does.
"To see Santa as a person, as a real-life character, and he can be here and be an example, that is just so fantastic," Cleo's mother, Genie Gertz, said in ASL through an interpreter.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Wideonet
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.