Bringing holiday joy to the Aleutians
In parts of the world, Santa arrives by sleigh, slides down chimneys or walks through front doors. But for people living in small island communities in the Aleutians, access to the mainland is limited — and children rarely have the chance to visit Santa.
Ballyhoo Lions Club saw the need and wanted to do something to make the holidays happier for the children in these remote areas. Transportation to and from big cities can only be accomplished via air, hence Operation Santa began.
Every December since 1992 (weather permitting), Santa has suited up and steps off his transport to bring gifts and joy to people living in remote islands of Alaska. Grant Aviation will be helping with the deliveries when the district governor arrives Friday, Dec. 20 for the grand event.
Ballyhoo Lions of Unalaska/Dutch Harbor take on this task each year to bring joy to our remote communities. Children wait for this big event each year with stars in their eyes and anticipation of their wishes being answered.
Ballyhoo Lions host this annual event by delivering gifts to the Aleutian Islands of Akutan and Atka.
Santa arrives at the schools in a fire truck with lights flashing and sirens blaring. The program also serves Cold Bay and Adak, where the gifts are sent by mail.
Gifts will be distributed locally in Unalaska at the Head Start preschool and elementary school. It is a community wide event with Lions wrapping 500 gifts for the children to be delivered by Santa.
Each year, Ballyhoo raises approximately $10,000 for Operation Santa.
If you would like to learn more about being a Lion, please visit www.lionsclubs.org. Locally, you can contact the Eagle River Lions Club at www.eagleriverlions.com, or The Sleeping Lady Mountain Lions at www.sleepingladylions.org.