Spreading holiday cheer in Wales, Alaska

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Quatasia Carter

In a heartwarming gesture to ensure the children of a small remote school in Alaska experienced the magic of Christmas, the Pacific Air Forces Regional Support Center organized to fly donated gifts into Kingikmiut School in Wales, Alaska, Dec. 21.

“This trip was an amazing opportunity to put smiles on children’s faces,” said U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jason Collins, a senior enlisted leader with PRSC.

This small community has never been served by popular initiatives like Operation Santa Claus or Toys for Tots. The PRSC’s efforts succeeded in supplying presents to nearly every child in the community’s sole education center.  

“The kindness and hospitality of the people of Wales was off the charts,” said U.S. Air Force Chaplain (Capt.) Derek Vandermolen of the PRSC.

Labeled “Operation Santa Claus,” the flight aimed to bring the cheer of Christmas joy and memories that will last a lifetime. The children ranged from under 1 to 18 years old in age.

“The funny thing about serving others is that more often than not, you walk away more blessed than the recipients,” said Vandermolen. “To put a smile on a child’s face during the holidays makes it all worth it.”

Alaska's remote communities face unique challenges when it comes to accessing resources and services available in urban areas. Initiatives like the official Operation Santa Claus have been unable to reach them in recent years. The PRSC’s dedicated efforts helped step up and fill this gap by organizing this special flight filled with gifts tailored for the youth of Wales, Alaska.

“Events like this keep the partnership strong between the Air Force and the Alaska Native communities we rely on to keep our critical radar sites going,” said Vandermolen.