COCORD, N.H. –
In the spirit of giving, the New Hampshire National Guard gave a tactical assist to Santa for Christmas.
Guardsmen transported thousands of donated children’s gifts to communities across the state in military trucks, buses, and even a Black Hawk helicopter Dec. 13.
The endeavor was facilitated through a partnership with the State Employees’ Association and Operation Santa Claus, a charitable program in its 62nd season.
“This year, we served roughly 3,500 children, which is one of the highest we’ve ever done unfortunately, but fortunately,” said Richard Gulla, SEA president.
For several weeks, gifts were gathered and staged at the state military reservation in Concord.
Dozens of guardsmen, from generals and lieutenants to sergeants and airmen, amassed last Tuesday to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and pass packages from heaping piles into awaiting delivery vehicles. Gifts were then taken to Department of Health and Human Services facilities, including offices in Berlin, Concord, Manchester, Keene, Claremont, Portsmouth, and Rochester.
“One of our missions is building partnerships,” said NH Adjutant Gen. David Mikolaities. “There’s no better partnership than working with these folks here as we support our communities throughout the state.”
According to Christine McManus, SEA communications manager, this year’s OSC was one of the biggest ever, citing inflation and the pandemic as contributing factors.
"We are always looking for sponsors and donors and all kinds of help,” McManus said. “We even need shoppers to go out and just buy gifts for the kids. But it is very exciting. It’s one of the things we look forward to every year, and it just couldn’t be better.”
McManus added that SEA’s support of OSC is year-round, and planning for next year’s event starts in January.
Donations can be made at operationsantanh.org.
“We’re so grateful to be able to use your facility this year," Gulla said. “It’s a team effort. We couldn’t do it without you.”