The organization benefits over 50,000 special needs children in NYC every year. Their motto is:
No one is so tall as when they stoop to help a handicapped child.
Operation Santa Claus is held every year at JFK Airport in Port Authority Hanger #19. Sponsors like Macy’s donate plenty of Christmas decorations and floats to transform the massive space into a jolly holiday party. Singers, dressed up as Santa’ Elves, entertain the children as they enter the hangar.
Over 4,o00 children representing schools from every Borough in NYC, arrived by the dozens. They were transported by hundreds of school buses, which completely filled up the back lot.
Once inside the hangar, the children are treated to a holiday parade of local high school marching bands, singing and of course, a Christmas toy from Santa.
The highlight of the event was the dramatic entrance of Santa Claus on a Delta Jet Plane. The plane slowly entered the hangar with Santa waving from the cockpit. He then descended upon the crowd, still waving, saying «Ho, Ho Ho, Merry Christmas.» It was something that even us adults enjoyed watching. Santa then boarded a mini train that drove around the crowd of joyful children.
The Volunteers of Operation Santa Claus
We were a large cross-section of people. Most of them work for different Law Enforcement Agencies such as the DSS, Secret Service, Port Authority Police, the FDNY and of course, the Community Mayors. My fellow FBI Citizen’s Academy Alum and I lent our helping hands to the FBI group that included many support staff of the Bureau, some undercover agents, as well as the FBI Explorers.
We escorted the children from the school buses to their tables. We clapped for them as they walked down the aisle to their tables. But the real heavy lifting work occurred at the end of the event, when we needed to ‘break down’ the space. It was an intense 20 minutes. During that time, we systematically folded down all of the tables and chairs. We then stacked them in rows. It was phenomenal team work.
We worked with tremendous focus and diligence to transform the space back into an airplane Hangar. When we left, the space looked so orderly. I look forward to volunteering for more events with the FBI Citizens Academy in the future.