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A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications

Operation Santa Claus Press Release

Contact Information:

Hana Johnson
(c) 316.218.7380

Operation Santa Claus gives back to military families

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Dec. 6, 2013 – 

As the Christmas season approaches, Fort Riley’s 29th annual Operation Santa Claus is taking place again this year. A program designed to assist military families who cannot afford to provide a proper Christmas for their children, Operation Santa Claus asks the local Fort Riley and Manhattan communities to donate both money and toys for these families.

“Not only does this program provide gifts for local children and families, it also is a great opportunity for our local communities to give back to those that work so hard for our country,” said Christine Benne of the Association of the United States Army.

This year, the goal of the program is to raise $100,000 in monetary donations and 5,000 toys. In order to reach those goals, Operation Santa Claus is not only reaching out to the communities of Manhattan, Junction City and Fort Riley but the Kansas State University population as well. 

“We would love to get K-State students involved. There will even be an opportunity to donate toys on campus at The Brian Setzer Orchestra’s performance at McCain Auditorium on Dec. 11,” said Steve Elstrom of Fort Riley Public Affairs.

The headquarters for the toy drive are at Santa’s Workshop on historic Main Post at Fort Riley. While Operation Santa Claus provides toys for children, it also allows parents of these children to go shopping at Santa’s Workshop. Each family is allowed to pick out two to three toys per child.

“After all the donations are compiled, they are organized at Santa’s Workshop and the families are then able to come shopping for their children. It is a very neat opportunity to be a part of. These families are often of lower rank, and they cannot afford to purchase for their own family. It is neat to be able to give back to those that give so much,” said Benne. 

Another way for individuals to get involved is through volunteering to assist with the needs of the program. Many volunteers are needed to help Operation Santa Claus run smoothly each year. 

“There are soldiers that are assigned to be Santa’s elves starting in November, and they work until the end of the program, but we still need volunteers to make this a success. We need people to help our families with shopping. We need others to help with wrapping gifts. This wouldn’t be possible without the help of volunteers. In the past, we’ve even had fraternities and sororities come out to help,” Benne said.

As the Christmas season often cultivates a sense of giving in many people, Benne also mentioned the overwhelmingly positive response from local citizens.

“My favorite part of the program has been seeing the outpouring of people who donate. People you don’t expect. Average families donate. All kinds of people donate. It’s really special to see,” Benne said. 

For more information about Operation Santa Claus and how to get involved or donate, contact Maddie Lafleur, at wackytml@aol.com.