Spc. Kate Langdon Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade surveys the work of Santa’s elves in the bike shop at Operation Santa Claus Nov. 19. Photo by Spc. Julia Dennard, 24th Press Camp Headquarters.
Spc. Julia Dennard
24th Press Camp Headquarters
Children love the holidays. The magic of Santa Claus and the excitement of toys under the tree keep them awake hoping to get a glimpse of an elf, maybe a reindeer or even Old Saint Nick himself.
Unfortunately, some children will not have a very merry Christmas. There may not be any gifts under the tree. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Operation: Santa Claus has been around providing toys during the holiday season for children of Soldiers since 1957. Vouchers for qualifying Soldiers are available from their commanders.
OSC is run by Master Sgt. Kenneth D. McGowan and created a partnership with Soldiers from the Warrior Transition Battalion who donate their time at the workshop. McGowan says it is a “win-win situation.”
“They come over and work on the toys and bikes for the kids and it’s a kind of therapy for them too,” McGowan said.
Operation: Santa Claus has its own workshop where “Warrior Elves” repair and refurbish toy and bikes. The “Operation” relies on the generosity of individuals and corporations who donate toys, money and time.
“We collect and repair toys year round,” said McGowan. “They need to be new or in good condition and, if necessary, easily repairable.
Sgt. Jeric Hizon, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade works on a bike at Operation Santa Claus Nov. 19 to be given away during the holidays to children in need. Photo by Spc. Julia Dennard, 24th Press Camp Headquarters.
“The most popular gift is bikes,” continued McGowan. “We have 424 bikes right now. Every kid lights up when they see a bike under the Christmas tree and we run out of bikes every year, especially small bikes 12 inches to 18 inches tall. … In order to fix all the toys and bikes we receive, we are always in need of tools, parts and batteries for electronics. We use Slime to seal the tires and we always need more Slime, but our biggest obstacle this year is bike seats. We received a donation of 20 brand new 12 inch bikes, but they have no seats. If we don’t get seats, the bikes will just sit here and that would be so unfortunate.”
McGowan is in the process of going to Fort Bliss units and setting up barrels where Soldiers can bring toys in to donate. He is also preparing the workshop for “Santa Claus” and “Mrs. Claus” to come and visit. The Clauses plan to visit with the children have photo opportunities and hopefully cookies and cider. In order for Operation: Santa Claus to be successful they need as much help as possible.
Those that would like to contribute can e-mail Master Sgt Kenneth McGowan at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 568-1010. Operation: Santa Claus is located at Bldg. 1123 on Baldwin Rd.