Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

December 21, 2012 10:00 ET

Seasonal Gifts Spread Holiday Cheer

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 21, 2012) - In the coming days, more than 1600 Canadian Forces (CF) men and women serving around the world over this holiday season will receive an Operation Santa Claus package filled with goodies donated by caring Canadians and businesses. These holiday packages are intended to provide some of the traditional comforts of home for those serving away from their families and loved ones in 18 distinct missions around the world, including Afghanistan, Canadian Forces Station Alert, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Haiti, Israel, Sudan, and Her Majesty's Canadian Ship Regina, currently serving in the waters off the Middle East.

"Bringing a bit of holiday cheer to our uniformed men and women deployed overseas goes a long way toward providing a sense of normalcy and is a real morale booster," said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. "That is why I am so grateful to Canadian Forces Personnel and Family Support Services and the many generous donors for coming together to honour our members and recognize their sacrifices at this family-oriented time of year."

Operation Santa Claus, made possible through private and corporate donations, can trace its roots back to 1991, when a group of military spouses from Montréal sent Christmas packages to their loved ones serving on peacekeeping missions. Operation Santa Claus is managed by Canadian Forces Personnel and Family Support Services.

In continuing with the holiday spirit, 14 Afghan interpreters and their families who assisted the Canadian military during the Afghanistan conflict and currently live in the Ottawa region, recently received a holiday package from caring CF members as an act of thanks for their service to our country. The packages' contents varied depending on the need of each family or individual and included a variety of high quality goods and gift cards. Major contributors included Sobey's, Mid East Food Centre, Giant Tiger, Metro, Energizer, Girl Guides of Canada, the City of Ottawa and the Royal Canadian Legion.

"These Afghan interpreters have provided invaluable assistance in Canada's efforts to support our troops in their efforts to help the people of Afghanistan," continued The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. "I would like to thank all the generous donors for contributing to this gesture of kindness to these unsung heroes and their families."

The initiative was spear-headed by Lieutenant-Colonel Steve Nolan, a CF member currently serving in Ottawa. During his time in Afghanistan, Lieutenant-Colonel Nolan observed his own interpreter spend countless hours helping CF members learn the Afghan culture and language and liaising between soldiers and the local population to establish rapport. This memory compelled him to do something this holiday season as an act of thanks.

Notes to editor/news director:

For further information about the Operation Santa Claus, please contact Captain Paul Finnemore, Public Affairs Officer for Canadian Forces Personnel and Family Support Services, at 613-996-4620, or by e-mail at paul.finnemore@forces.gc.ca.

For further information on Canadian Forces Personnel and Family Support Services, please visit www.cfpsa.com.

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