News: ‘Dragons’ get early start spreading holiday cheer with Operation Santa Claus
Story by Sgt. Richard Colletta
FORT RILEY, Kan. – Soldiers of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, got a head start on spreading holiday cheer this season by donating sacks of toys to Fort Riley’s Operation Santa Claus, Nov. 24.
Operation Santa Claus began in the early 1920s when postal clerks who read letters addressed to Santa in the dead-letter office started digging into their own pockets to purchase gifts for poor and needy children. From there, local communities started pitching in too. Now, it has grown to a nation-wide, annual phenomenon.
The command and staff team of the “Dragon” brigade went to the Operation Santa Claus headquarters to get a look at the size of the brigade’s cumulative donation.
Col. Henry Arnold, III, commander of the 4th IBCT, said it’s all for a good cause and praised the soldiers who helped donate to the program.
“We take care of our own and this is really one of the things that makes the Army a great institution ... the people in it,” Arnold said.
Command Sgt. Maj. Michael McCoy, the top non-commissioned officer of the Dragon brigade, added that he was also impressed with the brigade’s efforts.
“A lot of people need help and we give it,” he said. “It’s good just knowing that you’re putting a smile on a child’s face.”
At the Fort Riley Operation Santa Claus headquarters, “Soldier Elves” help organize and sort through the donated toys. These soldiers report to the OSC as their appointed place of duty until the job is done.
Spc. Joe Bauer, a soldier with Alpha Company, 701st Brigade Support Battalion was one of the Soldier Elves working with the operation this year.
“It’s nice to help out other families,” Bauer said.
“It’s a great program for people that might be a little down on their luck this year,” he said.
Sgt. 1st Class Bernadett Carr, a soldier with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 701st Brigade Support Battalion, was the non-commissioned officer in charge of Fort Riley’s Operation Santa Claus this year.
“Families who are in need don’t have to be shy,” she said. “If they need some help they can come to us. We’re also helping the local communities too, and they’re also helping us.”
Carr said this was the first time she has been a part of something like this and she loves it.
“I’m going to continue being a part of this. It’s great,” she said.
This work, ‘Dragons’ get early start spreading holiday cheer with Operation Santa Claus, by SSG Richard Colletta, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.