Santa steps up for Colorado Guard families

KRISTINA IODICE Updated: December 15, 2012 at 12:00 am • Published: December 15, 2012

Toys piled atop tables on the drill floor at the Colorado National Guard’s armory in Colorado Springs.

The mission Saturday was to make sure every Guardsman has a merry Christmas.
“It’s to help National Guard families in need during the holidays,” said Airen Hall, with National Guard Family Programs.

Families came through the armory Saturday to pick out gifts for youngsters. Dubbed “Santa Shops” the giveaways of donated items are offered at Guard facilities around the state.

Some kids picked out their own presents, Hall said, and parents picked out others.

Distractions came in the form of a craft table run by volunteer elves, treats and visits with Santa himself.

The presents were aimed at children, but parents had big smiles.

“Christmas always gets expensive,” said guardsman 1st Lt. Tony Luchia, 28.

Luchia and his wife brought 15-month-old Naomi to pick out a few things, and they said they were thankful for the extra presents.

“Of course it helps,” said Kasia Luchia, 26. “it’s always tight.”

There had been a steady stream of families throughout the day after the armory opened at 9 a.m. Hall said about 120 people visited to fill bags with gifts.

For volunteers, the highlight of the day was watching the kids play, and occasionally joining in.

Saturday’s Santa usually wears stripes. Staff Sgt. Chris Sawatzki, was a first-time volunteer and wound up wearing the red and white uniform.

“It was something out of my comfort zone,” he said. “It was a lot of fun.”


Contact Kristina Iodice: 636-0162 Twitter @GazetteKristina Facebook Kristina Iodice

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