By The Associated Press
Channel 2 News
9:25 AM AKST, November 20, 2012
The approaching holidays bring another year of Operation Santa Claus for the Alaska National Guard.
The Guard is gearing up for the 56th annual holiday visits to Alaska villages.
This year the Guard will play Santa in four communities, visiting Northway on Nov. 27, Venetie on Dec. 1, Atmautluak on Dec. 13 and Mekoryuk on Dec. 17.
Operation Santa Claus began in 1956, when floods and a drought devastated the fishing and hunting season for residents of the western Alaska village of St. Marys. With no money for Christmas, a local mission asked the Guard for help.
Word spread and the Guard was inundated with donations of toys. It made sense to bring Santa along.
The mission closed in the late 1980s, but the gift-giving effort continued.
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