National Guard flies Santa to remote Arctic village Christmas toys and other supplies are loaded from a C130 military transport plane onto sleds being pulled by snowmobiles in Shishmaref, Alaska. At left, Santa and Mrs. Claus get off the C130 (AP photos)
National Guard flies Santa to remote Arctic village
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Volunteers who brought Christmas to a remote Inupiat Eskimo community on Alaska's western coast came bearing necessities like coats and school supplies as well as rare treats like apples, oranges and even ice cream.

"'Cause everybody loves ice cream," said 17-year-old Cheyenne Nayokpuk, when asked why anyone living 25 miles south of the Arctic Circle would want the cold treat.

The Operation Santa Program and the Alaska National Guard brought toys and other gifts to Shishmaref. It's the 58th year the program has brought a little holiday cheer to remote Alaska villages. Poverty there is widespread.

"For some of these kids, if it weren't for the toys we're delivering, they might not get a toy or anything at Christmas," said Maj. George Baker. He is divisional commander for the Salvation Army in Alaska.

"In many respects, some of these village areas are almost like Third World villages. A lot people don't understand that," he said. "You think we're living in the United States. But for a lot of these folks, this makes Christmas for them. Were it not for (Operation) Santa, they might not have anything."

Besides Shishmaref, the other village that received a visit this year was Newtok. Both are among Alaska's most eroded villages. Both have plans to relocate, with Newtok further along in the process.

The National Guard provided a C-130 transport plane to take the volunteers, including a Salvation Army band, and gifts to Shishmaref. It's located about 600 miles northwest of Anchorage or about 100 miles east from Russia, across the Bering Strait in the Chukchi Sea.

"There is a lot of need in Shishmaref," school Principal Ralph Watkins said. "Having access to just some of your basic things is an event."

He said it takes effort to get to the village. For anyone wanting to get there from the Lower 48 states, it would require first a flight to Anchorage, followed by another airplane ride to Nome. Visitors still would need one more plane ride. It's a big deal for someone to come in and bring gifts, he said.

"It's all the kids have been talking about for the last week," he said.

Some community members drove their snowmobiles to the airstrip to greet the arriving airplane. They waved to Santa and Mrs. Claus as they got off. The honored couple rode in a pickup to the school for the big event. Other volunteers jumped in sleds and were pulled to town by snowmobiles.

Before Santa and Mrs. Claus made their appearance, the children of Shishmaref welcomed the visitors. The kids performed Alaska Native dances.

Santa met with every child before the children went down a line. They received a gift, backpack, a book and then ice cream.

Critical thinking challenge: Why are the villages of Shishmaref and Newtok planning to relocate?

Assigned 86 times


COMMENTS (68)
  • JaleecaC-Ewi
    12/15/2014 - 10:54 a.m.

    In Alaska there are people who do get presents because they are poor. on the 15 of December 2014 Cheyenne Nayekpuk, Santa; salvation army and George baker helped others that are in need of help for Christmas the

  • GF68
    12/15/2014 - 12:10 p.m.

    I think that's a good idea because they're helping people that live in a place that there's nothing, may be there is places to buy supplies but not like in other parts.

  • 21edsode
    12/15/2014 - 12:10 p.m.

    This is cool how they could do this for Santa and his wife. Santa finally broke his cover. flying in the arctic circle must be very cold especially riding on snowmobiles.

  • uaafootball13
    12/15/2014 - 12:14 p.m.

    I think that is a good thing that they are doing this, But why would you take could ice cream to a cold place such as Alaska?

  • drew1678
    12/15/2014 - 12:22 p.m.

    I can connect to the story because the less lucky don't get gifts for Christmas .
    They have no school supplies for school and getting some for them is very helpful and good. It really touches my heart and makes me feel good that someone is doing that.

  • MasonK-4
    12/15/2014 - 04:09 p.m.

    Santa is going early this year! The operation Santa program brought kids in an arctic circle village a backpack, a gift, a book, and ice cream. Volunteers like the salvation army came to an Eskimo village in Alaska. Anyone who wants to visit the small village they will have to fly to Anchorage and then to Nome. Santa was the main talk around the village for weeks.
    I think that this is very good. It can help those away from society and in need of help.

  • veronicav-Koc
    12/15/2014 - 04:19 p.m.

    Place an X by the correct answer as you watch the movie - ON THIS PAPER!!!

    1. Ralphie Parker and his family lived on what street?
    ___ Main Street ___ State Street ___ Sesame Street ___ Cleveland Street

    2. Which store window did Ralph see the Air Rifle in when he went into town?
    ___ Macy's ___ Dillard's ___ Saks 5th Avenue ___ Higbee's

    3. What Ralphie want for Christmas?
    ___ Red Rider BB Gun ___ A Pony ___ Football ___ American Flyer Sled

    4. What was the name of the Lone Ranger's nephew's horse?
    ___ Victor ___ Louis ___ Edgar ___ Mister Ed

    • ChrisC-mai
      12/19/2014 - 05:47 p.m.

      MEREDHKR, I agree with you, it is very generous of the Santa to bring kids gifts that cant afford any and I will also enjoy ice cream anytime of the year.

    • OliviaC-mai
      12/20/2014 - 10:54 a.m.

      Amanda, you are definitely right. In the places the article was talking about, they rarely have anything that we use everyday like a videogame.

    • KayaG-mai
      12/20/2014 - 07:33 p.m.

      I agree with Amanda.Little things will most likely amaze those childrenand it really makes you think of advantages you have.So maybe think about it next time.

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