Operation Santa Claus stops in Kivalina with visit from Gov. Sarah Palin

CAMP DENALI, Alaska -- A successful Operation Santa Claus 2008 season neared its end Dec. 6, after a warm visit in the gracious village of Kivalina, with holiday joy and a surprise visit from Gov. Sarah Palin and other distinguished guests.

Kivalina, in Alaska's Northwest Arctic Borough, was the second-to-last city on Santa's list of lucky communities visited during the 52nd annual Operation Santa Claus. The community relations and support program sponsored visits to other rural Alaskan communities including Ruby, Newtok, Stebbins, Teller, Brevig Mission, Chalkyitsik and  Metlakatla.

Upon arrival in Kivalina, Alaska Army and Air National Guardsmen -- along with volunteers from the Food Service of America, the Salvation Army and other civilian agencies -- were showered with welcoming sentiment. Children and adults were filled with Christmas spirit as gifts were presented by Santa and Mrs. Claus to the thankful children of Kivalina.

"This is so much fun and the presents are really cool," said Jasmine Adams, 14, of Kivalina.

Fellow student Warren Hawley, 13, agreed.

"This is the best, better than anything," he said. "This doesn't happen very much and we want you guys to come back."

Every one of Kivalina's 125 students who attend McQueen School were in attendance to receive books, presents, a holiday meal and ice cream, as well as a new Operation Santa Claus feature, pictures of themselves with Santa.

"In past Operation Santa Claus operations we've brought clothes to give as gifts, but that wasn't really a necessity in this instance, so I, along with other members of the Operation Santa Claus committee came up with the idea of getting these kids pictures of themselves with Santa," said Rich Owens, Operation Santa Claus committee member and avid supporter of the Alaska National Guard. Owens, the owner of the Anchorage Tastee-Freez, donated ice cream sundaes for the event.

"Costco donated an entire mobile digital printing station, so we're able to get pictures to these kids, many of whom don't even get school yearbooks," he noted.

From fresh fruit donations from the Food Service of America, to books, gifts and a warm holiday meal, all were in high spirits and thankful for the support of their National Guard.

"It's going to be a good Christmas," said Victor A. Norton, a Kivalina resident. "This event brings such a warm and comfortable feeling to town. We all really appreciate the governor and the generals making time to be here."

Several distinguished military guests were in attendance to give their warm holiday regards to the people of Kivalina. They included Gen. Carrol H. Chandler, Pacific Air Forces commander; Lt. Gen. (Alaska) Craig E. Campbell, adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard; Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, Alaskan Command commander; and Brig. Gen. Thomas H. Katkus, Alaska Army National Guard commander.

The people of Kivalina were overjoyed when Palin arrived. Palin, who attended the function with her daughter Piper, 7, was just as honored to be a part of Operation Santa Claus. According to Campbell, Palin personally requested to be a part of the festivities.

"It's wonderful to be here in Kivalina to celebrate the holidays and to be able to do this for the children of the community," Palin said. "It's good to be able to show our support for the National Guard and to show the people of Alaska what our Guard is up to."

After a hot Christmas dinner, lifelong Kivalina resident Larry Adams expressed his thanks to the men and women of the Alaska Guard.

"It's absolutely great what the Guard is doing and the kids just love this," Adams said. "I wish they would do this more often. We would love to see the Guard here again. Only we don't want to wait until next winter, come see us again this summer."

Operation Santa Claus has been an annual Alaska tradition for more than 50 years. From its roots delivering toys to the children of St. Mary's in 1956 and throughout the years and evolution of social conditions, not only has Operation Santa Claus spread the joy and charity of Christmas, but it has established and continues to maintain and improve a connection with the people of rural Alaska. It is a way to show all Alaskans that their National Guard is "always ready, always there," and that Alaska Guardsmen care about the people they protect and serve.

"The greatest thing about Operation Santa Claus is that we get to share our gifts, and the people of the communities get to share their culture," Campbell said. "Operation Santa Claus becomes a bonding experience for both urban and rural Alaska."
USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.