As the last National Guard trucks – loaded with gifts – drove off Thursday morning, Operation Santa Claus volunteers quickly worked to pack up all of their gear, which will be stored away until next year. It was the end of a busy morning, and busy fall, for the volunteers, most of whom are members of SEA’s Chapter 1.
Delivery Day is the day when all of the work comes together, when crews of National Guardsmen and OSC volunteers form human chains passing pre-sorted gifts to trucks that will ferry them to disadvantaged children all over the state.
“The presents will be delivered at least by Friday, hopefully today,” said Linda Farrell, OSC chairperson. “And then, the children will get their presents, and hopefully they’ll all enjoy their Christmas this year.”
Tomorrow, volunteers will deliver gifts to children at the Sununu Youth Center, as well.
Joining the OSC volunteers and National Guard troops were Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan and Miss New Hampshire Megan Lyman, both of whom were in the middle of the action helping load presents.
“I think it’s so important that young people throughout our state know that every Granite-Stater cares about them,” Hassan said. “That’s what this state is all about. We are an all-hands-on-deck kind of place, and nowhere is that more evident than this morning.”
Hassan praised the continuing efforts of the OSC volunteers.
“It’s a nice reminder to the citizens of New Hampshire that people who have worked for the state don’t stop caring or pitching in when they retire,” she said. “You guys are in it for the long haul. You’ve served the people of our state so well, so I am so grateful.”
SEA President Diana Lacey was also there to lend a hand Thursday morning, and joined Hassan in praising the work of OSC’s volunteers.
“The work that’s being done here is one of New Hampshire’s best charities and longest charities – 52 years – that’s quite an accomplishment,” Lacey said. “Every year, people come together here and you make miracles happen.”
Lacey also delivered a thank you to the Guard troops in attendance.
“Every day of the year, you’re there for the citizens of New Hampshire, and every year, you come out to help us with Operation Santa Claus,” Lacey said. “It’s an incredible gift.”
Operation Santa Claus relies heavily on donations and volunteer hours to get the job done. This year, more than 2,500 children received gifts through the organization. After a short break, the volunteers will get right back to work, planning for next year.
In closing her remarks Thursday, Farrell succinctly put all that work in perspective.
“I thank you all, because it’s all for the benefit of the children,” she said.