Santa travels to Kodiak Villages

Elf Erin Simone hands James Nelson a gift at Port Lions Priority School in 2013. (Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Diana Honings/Coast Guard/Flickr)

Mitch Borden/KMXT

Next week, Santa and some of his helpers will be dropping by villages around the Kodiak Archipelago with the help of the Coast Guard. The Santa to the Villages program has been around for decades, spreading cheer to a lot of the children in the region’s rural communities.

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Christmas is coming a little bit early for some kids in the Kodiak Archipelago. That’s thanks to the Coast Guard’s Santa to the Villages program. For over 40 years the group Coast Guard Spouses of Kodiak has worked to spread gifts to children in Kodiak villages.

K.C. Merrill is heading up the project this year. She’s been busy organizing everything and buying presents for around 200 kids.

“You want to get something you know that they will like. So I stand there a lot picking presents and repicking presents. For me, that’s the hardest part of this thing.”

Merrill flew down to L.A. to do most of the shopping. She says it was quite the task to get hundreds of pounds of presents back to Kodiak. Children from 0 to 18 will receive a gift, a hand-knitted hat and a pair of mittens, an apple and orange, and a book.

The region’s villages will be split between five different volunteer Santas and ten elves. Merrill says everyone involved in the annual event has a wonderful time.

“I know everybody who helps goes away with smiles. Whether it’s wrapping or being Santa and elves or flying them safely out there. You can’t go wrong helping kids who might otherwise not have as big of Christmas.”

This is the first year Merrill has worked on the Santa to Villages program because she and her family are pretty new to Kodiak. But she says she’s been told it’s a magical moment when Santa arrives in a village.

“Everybody just says the kids are just so happy to see Santa, so excited, so grateful and thankful for the presents. They just say it’s a pretty magical feeling.”

Communities should be visited by Santa and his helpers between December 5 – 8th. Merrill also says a Coast Guard medical officer will be along for the ride to give out eye examines.

 

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