A special visitor dropped by Kingston General Hospital (KGH) on Friday to visit sick children in the sun room of the pediatric floor.
With help from the Royal Canadian Air Force, Santa flew to the hospital — not by sleigh, but on a Griffon helicopter from St. Hubert.
It landed at the hospital’s helipad, delivering Santa Claus and his elves as part of “Operation Ho Ho Ho”.
“This is our third year running,” says Capt. Trevor Hopkins. “But (Operation) Ho Ho Ho itself has gone on quite a bit longer. It started at one of our squadrons, 400 at Borden, so maybe close to 10 years to be honest.”
The annual event is designed to bring holiday cheer to the hospital’s young patients and their families, and it did.
“It’s a challenging time to be here at the hospital,” says KGH Child Like Specialist Christine Leininger. “Today just created so much happiness and excitement, and that’s what we need to create here. To bring normal life here to the hospital.”
Leininger says that everyone was excited to get to meet Saint Nick.
“Santa coming today was just absolutely amazing,” she says. “Kids were thrilled, staff were thrilled, families were just so happy. And you could see their smiles behind their masks and feel the excitement for sure.”
“It can bring a tear to your eye when those kids see Santa Claus inside and they get the bear,” says Hopkins. “It’s really, really exciting.”
The volunteer elves, as well as all the toys that were given out, were all courtesy of 1 Wing Headquarters located at CFB Kingston.
“I think it’s a great way to give back to the community,” Hopkins says. “I feel that at the HQ we’re definitely part of Kingston, and this is a great way to give back and bring smiles to kids faces.”