Santa delivers cheer, Christmas gifts to Chiniak
CHINIAK, Alaska (AP):
"It's a Christmas miracle!" exclaimed a young boy in Chiniak as snow began to fall the minute he and the rest of the Chiniak children pushed their way out the Chiniak School doors to watch a US Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopter containing Santa, elves and gifts, land nearby.
Santa to the Villages is a programme by the Coast Guard Spouses Association of Kodiak that brings gifts and Santa to rural villages in the Kodiak area.
The programme began 40 years ago with two pilots, who flew around to remote communities delivering gifts.
This year, they will bring gifts to 264 children in the villages of Akhiok, Chiniak, Karluk, Larsen Bay, Old Harbor and Ouzinkie.
The Spouses Association buys the gifts right after Christmas and stores them for a year. That way they get the best deals on toys. They also try to keep the money local, shopping at Kodiak's two toy stores, Grand Slam and Ton of Fun.
The programme also survives on donations. The annual Stiles-Clark Auction raises money for the programme, but there's also widespread community support, said Santa to the Villages programme chairwoman Cory Brose.