Some of Santa’s special, secret, helpers slipped away from the North Pole for a few hours to visit the children at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto.
These special helpers were none other than the members of the 400 Tactical Helicopter Squadron (THS) from CFB Borden on Operation Ho Ho Ho.
A total of 21 members of the 400 THS visited the children at SickKids on Dec. 14. With bags of toys in their hand, the elves gathered in the Rotunda to meet and play with the group of excited children. The children were also treated to a special performance of the guitar and craft stations.
“It is pretty phenomenal. There were smiles from ear to ear. It brings joy because obviously, every is very challenging there,” said Capt. Karmen Hill, Logistic Officer 400 THS.
Hill says the children reacted by saying thank you and one child said: “I can’t believe I’m making snowflakes with elves and thank you for everything.”
The members of the 400 THS distributed close to 300 gifts for children of every age, infancy and up.
The experience is something personal for the Canadian Armed Forces members, especially for those who have had their own family members at SickKids.
“It’s incredible it brings a smile to everyone’s face. It makes you glow inside. Just being able to be there and interact with children, it’s an incredible experience that we are fortunate to participate in. It’s outstanding,” recalled Hill.
This is the 13th year 400 Tactical Helicopter Squadron has taken part in Operation Ho Ho Ho. It began when a member of the Squadron had their son admitted to SickKids. After making contacts within the hospital, the member decided the idea would be something nice for members of the 400 THS to be part of. The Squadron has been doing it ever since.
Members of the Simcoe County region donate gift cards and presents to the 400 Tactical Helicopter Squadron that are then put up for a silent auction. The proceeds from the auction are then used to purchase gifts for the children at the hospital.