CONCORD, N.H. -- New Hampshire guardsmen participated in Operation Santa Claus, an annual event to distribute donated gifts to N.H. families in need this Christmas, Dec. 16 in Concord.
Soldiers, airmen and volunteers from the State Employees' Association and Service Employees International Union Local 1984 to loaded gifts for transport to distribution points throughout the state.
“This is obviously a huge part of it,” said Andrew Toland, media & communications coordinator for the SEA. “Getting the stuff from here, getting it loaded up and getting it off to parts all around the state.”
The program has been led by the SEA since 1960.
This year’s gifts will go to approximately 3,000 children for the Christmas holiday.
“It’s a great feeling to do that,” said Richard Gull, SEA president.
According Gull, funds for the gifts are raised throughout the year by holding various events, including potluck chili fests and silent auctions.
“This is the reason why I joined the guard is to do this community effort,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Pufki, 3643rd Brigade Support Battalion. “Although we’re here for the war fight functions and domestic security, this is the stuff that I enjoy - being a part of the community.”
For one Airman, this was her first time volunteering in Operation Santa Claus.
“It’s fun,” said Staff Sgt. Kellie Daly, with the 157th Operations Group. “It’s good to get somewhere different, meet new people and know you’re helping the community.”