For a while, the children of Nuiqsut, Alaska, weren’t sure there would be a Christmas at all this year.
VIDEOS BY INSPIRE MORE
The tiny village of just 460 residents sits just 30 miles south of the Arctic Ocean in Northern Alaska. The village is made up mostly of Alaska Inupiat, and it is a close-knit Native community that has hit hard times in recent years. Between COVID-19 and a national gas leak that forced evacuations in their area, this town could certainly use a little Christmas cheer!
This looks like a job for Santa and Mrs. Claus! The dynamic duo ditched the sleigh and hitched a ride with the Alaska National Guard as part of their Operation Santa Claus program.
Operation Santa Claus started back in 1956, when residents of one community were struck by a flood and ensuing drought that left them unable to celebrate the holidays. The guard flew in gifts and supplies, restoring both faith in humanity and Christmas spirit for hundreds of people, and a new annual holiday tradition was born.
The Guard now teams up with the Salvation Army to deliver thousands of pounds of gifts and supplies for three hard-hit Alaskan villages every year. This year, Nuiqsut was selected along with neighboring communities in Scammon Bay and Minto.
This is the first time in the 53 years the program has been running that Nuiqsut was selected, and the children were beyond excited to finally meet Santa and Mrs. Claus! They even braved wind chill temperatures of 25 degrees below zero to greet the National Guard plane when it landed.
“Some of them were out on the deck and they were jumping up and down, excited to see the plane coming in,” Lee Karasiewicz, principal of the Trapper School, said.
“They knew right away by the size of the plane, who was on that plane,” he added later.
While children lined up for a chance to sit on Santa’s lap, the National Guard unloaded more than 1,400 pounds of gifts for the village’s children. Each child received a backpack full of gifts and special snacks, books, and hygiene supplies. Some of the kids saved their backpacks to open later, while others couldn’t wait to rip into them to see what they got.
After the gift-giving, kids had ice cream sandwiches, and the whole room broke out into an impromptu traditional Native dance. Even Santa and Mrs. Claus got up and danced!
The temperatures in Alaska may be below freezing, but this is one story that warms us to our souls! It’s so nice to hear about Santa spreading joy to a region of the world that’s often overlooked.
Watch the video below to learn more about Alaska National Guard’s visit to Nuiqsut, and don’t forget to share.
Want to be happier in just 5 minutes a day? Sign up for Morning Smile and join over 455,000+ people who start each day with good news.