Santa came early to some sick children Wednesday morning once thanks to the Pasadena Police Air Operations Section and the Foothill Air Support Team.
Pasadena Police Chief Phillip L. Sanchez escorted Santa Claus and his flight suit clad “elves” as they arrived atop the Huntington Memorial Hospital bearing gifts and holiday cheer in their own special rotor-equipped sleigh.
The two-part Christmas Toy Drive known as “Operation Polar Wind” featured helicopter deliveries Wednesday at the Pediatrics Ward of Huntington Memorial Hospital and also at the Benedict Heliport in Altadena.
“It is our honor as the hosting and coordinating agency, to put this together with the men and women of so many other fine police departments, but mostly it is our pleasure to bring some joy into the lives of the children at these locations who won’t be home for Christmas,” said Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez
The first landing took place Wednesday morning on the roof of the Huntington Memorial Hospital where crowds of hospital staff, doctors and families flocked to see the arrival of Santa in a Pasadena Police helicopter, sporting a classic red velvet sack filled with toys of all kinds for a group of excited kids.
“This really is a collective effort with the Pasadena Police Department and many of the agencies in the San Gabriel Valley through the Foothill Air Support Team. I’m very, very proud of the effort of the officers put together. They collected toys, they donated their own money, we purchased gifts for children here at the hospital who aren’t having a very bright Christmas because of health issues,” said Sanchez.
Operation Polar Wind was funded through the generous contributions from City of Pasadena employees and Officer Associations participating in the FAST program, throughout the San Gabriel Valley, according to a press release. Approximately $4,000 in toys were bought and donated to give to Pasadena’s youth for this year’s event.
Santa’s second stop was at the Pasadena Police Department heliport in Altadena later in the afternoon.
This delivery brought in 48 kids and their families to an elaborate set up of unwrapped toys and a holiday throne where Santa made his way to give away gifts after he was greeted for celebrity-like landing. This event was held in conjunction with Peace Over Violence, a local organization committed to serving domestic violence and sexual assault survivors in our community.
“We are so appreciative of their generosity and commitment to serving survivors,” said Peace Over Violence Program Director Sandy Monroy about the event.
Peace Over Violence, (formerly LACAAW), established in 1971 by pioneering feminist activists, is a sexual and domestic violence, stalking, child abuse and youth violence prevention center headquartered in Los Angeles and dedicated to building healthy relationships, families and communities free from sexual, domestic and interpersonal violence.
One of the first agencies of its kind in the country, Peace Over Violence has been committed to social service, social change and social justice for 41 years. Peace Over Violence’s innovative programs are comprehensive and include Emergency, Intervention, Prevention, Education and Advocacy services.
“Some of these kids don’t have a Christmas. They just simply don’t have the means or the money so we get our families that are in most need and we bring them to this event, which they just love. The parents are ecstatic and of course the kids are very excited,” said Peace Over Violence Case Manager and Legal Advocate Claudia Sobaja.
Operation Polar Wind is a tradition that keeps on giving year after year.
“We’re able to have extra gifts left over for many of the non-profits. We support Peace Over Violence for example in ensuring that we can do what we can for our local community children as well,” explained Sanchez.