Alaska National Guard, Salvation Army deliver nearly a ton of gifts to children in remote villages

Inside the Gates
Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 4:29 PM AKST
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NUIQSUT, Alaska (KTUU) - Along the Nechelik Channel, tucked away 35 miles from the Beaufort Sea coast sits the quiet village of Nuiqsut. For the past two years, the village has been largely isolated from outsiders due to COVID concerns. But on Nov. 29, the village was greeted by members of the Alaska National Guard and Salvation Army during the annual Operation Santa visit.

“We’ve had a hard few years of our young people. It really lifts up their spirits,” Nuiqsut resident Dora Leavitt said.

Students from Nuiqsut were able to take turns sitting on Santa’s lap and tell him what they wanted for the holidays. This was followed by having a treat from Tastee-Freez, which was brought over to the village by members of a group called Tastee-Freez with the Guard.

The room, village officials say, was filled with squeals of joy and thunderous applause as Santa appeared.

“The pounding of the feet as they were coming into the gym, down the hallways,” Nuiqsut mayor Rosemary Ahtangaruak said. “The shine in their eyes with anticipation, the attempting to be good all day impatiently waiting for this time.”

This year, the Guard visited two other villages along with Nuiqsut — Scammon Bay and Minto. In Nuiqsut, the Alaska National Guard unloaded 1,420 pounds of gifts to be delivered to 191 children. Nuiqsut residents met up with Guard members at the airport and helped unload the plane, where they then brought the boxes of gift to the Nuiqsut Trapper School. In total, the Guard delivered gifts to over 585 children.