Toys For Tots Alaska 2015

Santa visiting with children in rural Alaska. Image-USMC

Santa visiting with children in rural Alaska. Image-USMC

As a part of Toys for Tots program, U.S. Marines assigned to Delta Company, 4th Law Enforcement Battalion, visited several villages in Alaska this Christmas season between December 8th and December 15th.

The Delta Company Marines traveled to hubs serving various villages via aircraft provided by the Alaska National Guard’s 144 Airlift Squadron, then traveled by snow machine to the surrounding communities in that hub’s area.

This year, three marine teams traveled to numerous villages in the vicinities of Kotzebue, Galena, and McGrath. Many village members, because of the high cost of traveling from these communities to larger ones, have children that may miss out on the Santa experience without the effort of these marines that prepare and go out to spread holiday cheer.

Marine Corps Captain, Michael A Sickels, says “A lot of the challenge is preparation, in order to get out out here we coordinate with Joint Base Elmendorf-Fort Richardson for our flights into the region, plus we have to coodinate all of the logistics , i.e, our travel, for the snow-mobiles, our food, our billeting, we coordinate this through our community partners.”

Captain Sickel continued, saying, “…the temperatures range between -20 and -40 degrees for our movement between towns on snow-mobiles, and that takes a lot of practice and preparation, that takes several months in advance to work on it to actually do this…you’ll see the kids, you know, the smile in their eyes and the happiness they get…some of these villages, they don’t get any presence from outside the community for the entire year…so, we dress up as Santa and bring these kids a lot of happiness at least once a year as much as we can.”

The United States Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots program’s goal is to deliver a new toy for children and bringing a message of hope to those youngsters with the hopes that it will assist them in becoming responsible, productive and patriotic citizens.