Santa Hitches Ride with the Coast Guard


Diana Gish/KMXT

Since landing on Kodiak Island can be tricky, even for flying reindeer, the Coast Guard has been offering Santa and his elves a lift. Last week children in each of Kodiak’s seven villages got a visit from the jolly guy in the red suit.

KMXT’s Diana Gish has more:

(Santa Visit "sfx …jingle…everybody!")

The "Santa in the Villages" program is a project of The Spouse’s Association of Kodiak. The group works year-round in cooperation with the schools, tribal councils and the community of Kodiak City to raise funds and collect donations for the annual visits.

(Santa Visit "good tidings we …happy new year.")

Two of the pioneers of the program were Coast Guard pilot Jim Stiles and his wife Lynn who were stationed in Kodiak in 1976. Lynn Stiles, now of Evansville, Indiana, returned to Kodiak in order to participate in this year’s program.

(Santa Visit 1 "over 30 year … for each child.")

Each year the children of Kodiak Island receive toys, fruit and handmade hats and mittens. This year for the first time, the children also received books. The Stiles’ granddaughters helped provide the books through a program at their school in Indiana.

To transport all the goodies, Santa and his elves got help from MH-60 Jayhawk and HH-65 Dolphin helicopters as well as the Kodiak-based cutter, "SPAR."

The Christmas entourage travelled to Port Lions, Ouzinkie, Danger Bay, Karluk, Larsen Bay and Ahkiok via helicopter and took the Coast Guard Cutter SPAR to Old Harbor.

The crew of the SPAR delivered two pallets of food on behalf of the Kodiak Island Food Bank including 24 Christmas turkeys.The SPAR also donated six desktop computers as part of the federal "Computers For Learning" program. After the holiday festivities, Old Harbor residents got a tour of the 225 foot ship.

One of the organizers of this year’s village visits was Tonya Raney, co-chair of the spouse’s association.

(Santa Visit "This year specifically … here in Kodiak.")

And just like those elves at the North Pole, right after the holidays, the Spouses Association will get to work in preparation for Santa’s return next year.

With help from Air Station Kodiak’s Public Affairs Office, I’m Diana Gish.

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