Just before Christmas, 12 of Santa’s elves will slip away from the North Pole to bring a little holiday cheer to children staying at the Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto.
This magical moment, however, doesn’t just happen like that. There are months of preparation before the elves take over Sick Kids on Dec. 13, all carried out by the members of 400 Tactical Helicopter Squadron.
Preparations start in early fall and thanks to community members who donate items for a silent auction or cash to the hospital, the squadron is able to collect enough to bring a significant amount of toys with them each year.
Proceeds from the silent auction, to be held on Dec. 4 this year, will be used to purchase additional toys for the children.
Upwards of a dozen members of 400 THS will visit the hospital this year to distribute the gifts. However, the event is so much more than just distributing toys.
In the Rotunda, the children who are able, will be treated to Christmas music, crafts and story time. Those children who are unable to leave the room will have toys hand-delivered to them in their rooms by military members and “elves.”
“For the kids, it’s obviously a tough time to be in the hospital. For us to be able to go down there and put a smile on their face for a half hour, or hour, is obviously worth the effort that everybody puts into it,” said Sgt Chris Morrow, of 400 THS, responsible for this year’s event.
The experience is something personal for the Canadian Armed Forces members, especially for those who have had their own family members at SickKids.
“For those few individuals, it’s very huge to give back to the hospital,” noted Morrow.
This is the 14th 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.
Last year the members of 400 THS distributed close to 300 gifts for children of every age, infancy and up.
To donate to the Sick Kids Hospital on behalf of Operation Ho Ho Ho click here.