Operation HO HO HO brings joy to children in three communities

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News Article / December 18, 2019

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From 1 Wing Kingston

Christmas is a special time, filled with love, laughter and giving. But for many it can also be stressful—making sure gifts are bought, cards are sent out, attending any number of gatherings, and trying to make it perfect. Now imagine worrying about all of this while also spending much of your time in the hospital caring for a sick child.

That’s where Operation HO HO HO comes in.

For more than a decade, some of Santa’s elves have been making the trip via a CH-146 Griffon helicopter to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto (Sick Kids) to deliver toys and Christmas cheer to the young patients. Members of 400 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, based in Borden, Ontario, have spearheaded the support to this event and look forward to it every year.

Last year another tactical helicopter squadron, 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, based in Edmonton, Alberta, decided to join in the fun and partnered up with the Stollery Children’s Hospital. And thus Operation HO HO HO found its way out west.

This year 1 Wing Headquarters, located in Kingston, Ontario, also partnered with Kingston General Hospital to put some smiles on the faces of children and parents alike by flying Santa to the Kingston Health Sciences Centre helipad, much to the delight of the children whose faces were pressed to their windows. Then Santa and his crew of elves from 1 Wing Headquarters went in to visit and distribute gifts.

There’s never a shortage of volunteers when it comes to Op HO HO HO. And it’s hard to tell who has more fun—the members of the participating units, the hospital staff, the children, or their parents. One thing is certain: for just a few moments, children feel like children, parents stop worrying as parents often do, and all is right with the world.

From 1 Wing and all of its squadrons located across the country and deployed overseas, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a safe and wonderful New Year!

Editor’s Note: In November 2019, Governor General Julie Payette presented Major Terry Wong with the Meritorious Service Medal (Military Division) for his “outstanding leadership and compassion through Operation HO HO HO, an annual fundraising program he created in 2003 to purchase Christmas gifts for sick children in Toronto”.


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