The Marines’ “Always Faithful” motto takes a whole new meaning around Christmastime as troops brave wintery and often dangerous conditions to deliver thousands of gifts hundreds of miles to children in remote Alaskan villages.
Giving Santa a much-needed break, Marines with Delta Company, 4th Law Enforcement Battalion, Marine Forces Reserve, also known as the Alaska Marines, use snowmobiles and aircraft to support Toys for Tots and make sure children have something to open for the holidays.
“Really, it seems like a lot of trouble, but it’s not,” said U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Keith Lowell, according to KMSP. “To see the sparkle in these kids’ eyes when they see Santa Claus coming into their school. When they come up and they get a gift from Santa Claus, it’s so special.”
After the toys are sorted at a base near Anchorage, Marines transport them 500 miles north to the city of Kotzebue, according to the report.
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Located 26 miles above the Arctic Circle, Kotzebue is a travel destination for shopping.
The Marines, many donning Santa hats, jackets, and pants, utilize the central hub to then disperse the gifts to the remote communities, hopping on snowmobiles and confronting sub-zero temperatures.
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The Toys for Tots program is run by the Marine Corps and a nonprofit foundation. It started in 1947.
In total, the program delivers 18 million toys to 7 million less fortunate children each year.