Santa brings holiday cheer to young patients thanks to Operation HOHOHO

A CH146 Griffon helicopter brought Santa and volunteer elves from 1 Wing Headquarters located at CFB Kingston to KGH to spread holiday cheer. Photo by Daniel Tastard-Homer/Kingstonist.

In what has become a treasured holiday tradition, Santa Claus touched down at the Kingston General Hospital (KGH) helipad earlier today to spread gifts and good cheer to young patients and their families at the Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) site.

According to a release from KHSC, on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, Santa left the reindeer at the North Pole and instead flew on a CH146 Griffon helicopter with help from the 438 Tactical Helicopter Squadron based out of CFB Saint Hubert. Aided by volunteer elves from 1 Wing Headquarters located at CFB Kingston — who joined him in masking up and cleaning their hands — Santa bustled his way into KHSC’s KGH site to deliver 50 teddy bears to kids receiving care in various areas of the hospital. The hospital agency said that the funds used to purchase the bears were donated by staff at 1 Wing.

Dubbed Operation HO HO HO, the annual fly-in visit went off without a hitch and left big smiles on the faces of kids, families, and staff, KHSC stated.

“Holidays are a special time, filled with love and laughter,” said Colonel Mike Babin, Commander, 1 Wing, “but for some it can also be stressful spending much of their time in the hospital caring for a sick child. It’s important for us to be good members of the community, so when Santa called asking if 1 Wing could help him deliver holiday cheer to young patients at the KGH site, naturally I said yes.”

For the children and families in need of care so close to the holidays, the festive visit was just what the doctor ordered, noted Kerri-Lee Bisonette, program manager of KHSC pediatrics, neonatal intensive care unit and Child Life Services.

“Even though we eagerly anticipate this visit each year, we’re always thrilled when we finally get that call from 1 Wing offering to escort Santa directly to the hospital,” she said. “It’s a magical experience for the kids and brings lots of positive holiday spirit to their hospital stay.”

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