Coast Guard brings Christmas cheer to Kodiak Island villages

KODIAK, Alaska – Santa and his elves are bringing Christmas cheer to the residents of the seven native villages on Kodiak Island aboard Coast Guard helicopters and the Kodiak-based Cutter SPAR this week.

The Spouse’s Association of Kodiak works year around to support the event by working with the schools, tribal councils and the community of Kodiak City to fundraise and collect donations. Each year the children of Kodiak Island receive toys, fruit and hats and mittens. This year for the first time the children also received books.

“Over 30 years ago my husband and I were instrumental in getting this program so that it was part of Coast Guard tradition,” said Lynn Stiles.

Her husband Jim was a pilot at the Coast Guard base in 1967. Stiles came back to Kodiak from her home Evansville, In., this year to accompany Santa on his rounds.

Santa to the villages is well received by all residents of the Kodiak villages and even adults can remember Santa’s Coast Guard facilitated visits.

“It’s wonderful for the kids,” said Arnold Kewan, board president of the Native Village of Port Lions Tribal Council. “They’ve come out here since I was in school and I’m 44 years old. It gives the kids a chance to believe in Santa, which Santa is out there, and it makes them think about what they want to do in their lives when they see the helicopters fly over the villages.”

Santa and his elves visited the villages of Port Lions, Ouzinkie, Danger Bay, Karluk, Larsen Bay and Ahkiok aboard MH-60 Jayhawk and HH-65 Dolphin helicopters. Santa took the Coast Guard Cutter SPAR to Old Harbor.

“Every crewmember played a part in bringing gifts to 68 village children,” said Lt. j.g. James Dooley, communications officer abord the SPAR. “Each child received a toy picked out just for them courtesy of the Spouses Association of Kodiak, as well as a set of hand knitted hat and mittens.”

The crew of the SPAR delivered food on behalf of the Kodiak Island Food bank including two pallets of dry goods and 24 Christmas turkeys. SPAR also donated six desktop computers as part of the federal Computers For Learning program under Executive Order 12999.

“A good time was had by all and the children seemed to enjoy themselves,” said Dooley.

After the day’s festivities SPAR gave tours to 34 local residents, educating both children and adults on Coast Guard missions and vessels. The SPAR is a 225-foot sea-going buoy tender homeported in Kodiak.

This article from yesterday includes a video of  one of the deliveries and more information about LCDR Stiles.

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