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News | Dec. 12, 2023

The Christmas they deserve

By Master Sgt. Charles Johnston

New Hampshire National Guardsmen helped deliver donated Christmas gifts to families in need via vans, military trucks and a Black Hawk helicopter Dec. 12 from the state military reservation in Concord.

The charitable endeavor was in partnership with the State Employees’ Association of New Hampshire and Operation Santa Claus, a program in its 63rd season.

“There are so many families that are in dire straits,” said Christine McManus, SEA communications manager. “I think this year has probably been one of the worst that I’ve seen.”

Dozens of soldiers, airmen and civilian volunteers loaded vehicles from a giant stockpile of donations that had been amassing for weeks. Packages were then transported to various distribution centers, including sites in Berlin, Concord, Manchester, Keene, Claremont, Portsmouth, and Rochester.

The volunteer event comprised guardsmen of all ranks, including OSC stalwart, Tech. Sgt. Christopher Wood of the 157th Air Refueling Wing.

“This is my 13th year helping kids get the Christmas they deserve,” Wood said. “It’s a pretty amazing event.”

NH Adjutant Gen. David Mikolaities, the Guard’s senior officer, also helped with the colossal undertaking.

“Distributing toys to underprivileged kids, it’s just an honor to be a part of it,” said Mikolaities, who labored shoulder to shoulder with the rank and file. “It’s all about giving back to our communities.”

The SEA’s support of OSC is year-round. Donations can be made at