Santa’s helpers gather gifts as part of “Operation Good Cheer”


If you’ve ever wondered how Santa gets all those gifts to children in the U.P. in one night, the formula may include a little magic and some volunteer help.  Some of those helpers braved temperatures around zero this past weekend.

A plane landed at Sawyer International Airport Saturday, loaded with hundreds of Christmas gifts for foster kids who live in the U.P.  It’s part of “Operation Good Cheer,” a 42 year tradition in which Santa’s helpers purchase, wrap, ship and will now help deliver the gifts.

Norma Semashko, Child and Family Services, says, “It’s so wonderful to be able to give the kids gifts and really have the spirit of Christmas for them.  They are so excited and grateful.  The Marquette community has been fabulous with supporting this endeavor.”

“It shows really good generosity from other people.  Knowing that they are nice and that there are people in the world who care about you, some kids have trouble with that so this makes them feel better.” said Justin Tant, Teaching Family Homes.

Trucks, fuel, planes are all donated — including the pilots’ time — to make this event a success.  Each foster child will receive at least three gifts.

Mike Koskiniemi, of Motions Fitness, says, “Why not give that kid one day where they can just be kids.  We have a record number of 26 bikes.  People were just coming to us from everywhere, Facebook, social media, from in the community and our own establishment, so it was amazing.”

The gifts will be dropped off to five participating Child and Family Services agencies in the U.P. to help create a Merry Christmas for nearly four dozen children.