The Coast Guard flew out to the Kodiak communities again this winter for its Santa to the Villages program.
The Coast Guard Spouses’ Association of Kodiak organizes the event every year and it provides village kids with both medical check-ups and presents. This year, Santa, the elves and their Coast Guard escort delivered eye care to the village students and the teachers.
One elf, command yeoman Kristen Williamson, says she flew out to Ouzinkie to help Santa pass out gifts. And for this particular occasion, Santa used a helicopter instead of a sleigh…
“They didn’t see us come out off the helicopter, so we were able to change into our little outfits and everything, but we did do a little pass over of the school so Santa kinda waved out, and we gave a little pass over and waved at the kids that were outside.”
Williamson says she was happy to be one of the elves on the flight.
“Just for me personally it was just super cool to see how the Coast Guard – we were able to bring Christmas cheer to them because you literally just saw their little faces just light up so excited, and that to me just made me so proud to be part of the air station.”
In fact, the honor of being one of Santa’s island helpers is a highly prized position according to pilot Ryan Hown.
“I think this place has a – there’s a special significance here because of the remoteness of a lot of the villages, and the close relationship that a lot of us feel with the community here is unique. So, yeah, it’s a meaningful thing that nearly everybody volunteers to do, and a lot of times folks are fighting over who’s going to get to be on the helicopters and who’s going to get to fly ‘em there.”
The Coast Guard will be visiting all the villages, and while some of the flights have been rescheduled, staff says they should complete all the drop-ins by next week.