Volunteers Help Send Off Gifts for Children to All Parts of the State
Dozens of volunteers and National Guardsmen gathered Thursday morning to help brighten the holidays for 3,000 children around the state. The gathering was the culmination of months of work by the state employees, volunteers and sponsors who take part in Operation Santa Claus.
The small army of helpers passed packages big and small to be loaded onto National Guard trucks that would soon head off for points around the state. The gathering on Thursday came a little more than a week after a break-in at Operation Santa Claus headquarters dealt the program a setback. After news of the break-in spread, the community responded in force to replace stolen items and the diligent efforts of law enforcement led to two arrests.
“I’d like to thank everybody, the National Guard, the volunteers, the sponsors, the state agencies, private individuals and companies, too,” said Operation Santa Claus chair Linda Farrell. “There’s no way we could do this without everybody’s help. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.”
Farrell, who is stepping down as chair of the committee, received a loud ovation in recognition of her years of tireless service. She and the members of the Operation Santa Claus Committee work year-round — including long hours as the end of the year approaches — to make sure the program comes off without a hitch. That was the case on Thursday.
In addition to the National Guard troops from both the Air Force and Army, the volunteers were joined by Gov. Maggie Hassan and Miss New Hampshire Holly Blanchard. Both were there to work, rolling up their sleeves and helping load the trucks. In between trucks, Gov. Hassan took a moment to address the crowd and was quick to thank the state employees, both active and retired, who keep Operation Santa Claus running.
“Thank you all, not only for Operation Santa Claus, but for the services you provide for New Hampshire each and every day,” she said. “You’re a hardworking, excellent group and I’m proud and grateful for the work you do.”
Hassan also took time to thank the Guard troops, not just those in attendance but those who couldn’t be there because they are serving overseas.
“We hope that they come home soon, but in the meantime we’re grateful for everything they’re doing for us,” she said.
She said that all involved with the program are doing a tremendous service for children who are most in need.
“We want to make sure that every child in New Hampshire knows that he or she is loved and there’s a whole community of people who cares about them,” Hassan said. “You are a symbol of that for kids across the state.”
Thanks to all who take part in the program, Operation Santa Claus again delivered on its mission and showed children across the state that there’s a caring community behind them.