Federal Librarian Winter 2010

Commando Santa + Library = Family Support

by Vicky Stever, Director, Hurlburt Field Library

His smile was jolly.  His beard was white.  He listened to children’s Christmas wishes.  But there was something very different about the Santa Claus who stopped at Hurlburt Field Library on Nov. 14th.  Over 120 children and parents visited a “Commando Santa” who was resplendent in a fur-trimmed suit…of desert-pattern camouflage.

Hurlburt Field, Florida is the headquarters of the Air Force’s Special Operations Command, home to America’s Air Commandos.  Commando Santa’s DBU suit honors Hurlburt’s military members and provides a unique comfort to their children, especially those who are missing a deployed parent.  This is the third year that Commando Santa has been the keystone of a library event for military families; he’s the alter ego of Randy Tew, a local military retiree.

Library staff photographs each child during the chat with Santa then print the pictures for the family to keep.  Handicraft stations lead participants through construction of a photo ornament that many kids choose to mail to a distant mom or dad.  “With Operation Commando Santa, families can share a holiday activity even when they have to be apart,” said Sabrina Honda, library programmer.  “We’re helping the deployed parent share the happiness of ‘normal’ events like a visit to Santa while kids imagine how Santa might look in that faraway place where dad or mom is spending Christmas.”

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