Santa visits Spangdahlem for Operation Warm Heart

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Deshan Woods
  • 52nd Communications Squadron
It's a familiar lyric to a popular Christmas classic, "You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I'm telling you why, Santa Claus is coming to town."

Although this may sound out of place in July, some families shopping at the Exchange were surprised to see Santa and his elves at the exchange this July 27, 2014.

Santa and his elves came to Spangdahlem as part of Operation Warm Heart's "Christmas in July" Random Act of Kindness event to help promote awareness to the program.

"What started out as a fund raising idea quickly morphed into a 'give back' event for the community," said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Deshan Woods, 52nd Communications Squadron first sergeant from Paris, Tennessee, and president of Operation Warm Heart. "The more the idea was explored, the more exciting it became. No one expects to see Santa Claus sitting in the BX in July and when they do, it draws attention."

Members of the First Sergeant Council volunteered to dress up as Santa and the elves. U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Mark Cutler, 52nd Component Maintenance Squadron first sergeant from Rome, New York, dressed as Santa Claus.

"The excitement on the faces of the children when they walked in was priceless," he said. "Many approached me for photos and told me what they wanted for Christmas. That's when I gave them a ticket to go get their gift from one of my elves."

Inside the store, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jason Garo, 52nd Operations Group first sergeant from New York, New York, and U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jennifer Miranda, 702nd Munitions Maintenance Squadron first sergeant from Sturgis, Kentucky, dressed as elves and handed out gift certificates to people of all ages who had met Santa prior to entering the store. More than 160 gifts were handed out in values from $10 to $100 each.

Unfortunately, Santa and his elves couldn't stay too long. They had to rush back to the North Pole to begin preparing for this year's holiday venture. But don't worry -- Christmas is less than five months away.

Operation Warm Heart provides financial assistance to families in need during the holiday season by providing commissary gift vouchers, loans and grants. Beneficiaries of the program are nominated through their supervisory chain of command or they may go directly to their unit first sergeant.