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Thule launches Operation Julemand

SAVISSIVIK, Greenland -- Julemand is greeted by a child at Savissivik, Greenland, during Thule Air Base’s Operation Julemand. The multi-national effort is held annually by U.S., Danish and Canadian military and civilian employees at Thule to promote goodwill with the Greenlandic people. Julemand is Danish for “Christmas Man” and is the equivalent to Santa Claus. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Laura Simmons)

SAVISSIVIK, Greenland -- Julemand is greeted by a child at Savissivik, Greenland, during Thule Air Base’s Operation Julemand. The multi-national effort is held annually by U.S., Danish and Canadian military and civilian employees at Thule to promote goodwill with the Greenlandic people. Julemand is Danish for “Christmas Man” and is the equivalent to Santa Claus. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Laura Simmons)

SAVISSIVIK, Greenland -- Julemand arrives at Savissivik, Greenland, for Thule Air Base’s Operation Julemand. The multi-national effort is held annually by U.S., Danish and Canadian military and civilian employees at Thule to promote goodwill with the Greenlandic people. Julemand is Danish for “Christmas Man” and is the equivalent to Santa Claus. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Laura Simmons)

SAVISSIVIK, Greenland -- Julemand arrives at Savissivik, Greenland, for Thule Air Base’s Operation Julemand. The multi-national effort is held annually by U.S., Danish and Canadian military and civilian employees at Thule to promote goodwill with the Greenlandic people. Julemand is Danish for “Christmas Man” and is the equivalent to Santa Claus. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Laura Simmons)

QAANAAQ, Greenland – Julemand delivers gifts to children at Qaanaaq, Greenland, during Thule Air Base’s Operation Julemand. The multi-national effort is held annually by U.S., Danish and Canadian military and civilian employees at Thule to promote goodwill with the Greenlandic people. Julemand is Danish for “Christmas Man” and is the equivalent to Santa Claus. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Laura Simmons)

QAANAAQ, Greenland – Julemand delivers gifts to children at Qaanaaq, Greenland, during Thule Air Base’s Operation Julemand. The multi-national effort is held annually by U.S., Danish and Canadian military and civilian employees at Thule to promote goodwill with the Greenlandic people. Julemand is Danish for “Christmas Man” and is the equivalent to Santa Claus. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Laura Simmons)

THULE AIR BASE, Greenland -- Personnel here launched Operation Julemand Dec. 14, an annual gift-giving program for Greenlandic children.

The Operation Julemand Foundation has been doing great things for the children of Greenland since 1959, when two Airmen began "Operation Santa Claus," since renamed "Operation Julemand." The annual effort began with providing Christmas gifts to local children and has expanded over the years to include playgrounds and educational materials with money raised through fundraisers at Thule. This multi-national effort is held by U.S., Danish and Canadian military and civilian employees at Thule to promote goodwill to the Greenlandic people. The word Julemand is Danish for "Christmas Man" and is the equivalent to Santa Claus.

"The current OJF team is still carrying on the great tradition of teams past, this year distributing 210 gifts to 189 Greenlandic children," said Chaplain (Capt.) Bradley Kimble, Thule Air Base chaplain. Gifts were provided to children in four villages, and key organizers were able to visit two of those in person -- Qaanaaq and Savissivik - during the gift delivery.

"We brought Santa and gifts, but the village's residents gave us so much more in return," Kimble said.

Attendees enjoyed the little boys' and girls' beaming expressions when they saw Julemand, the villagers singing songs for their guests, and parents wanting pictures of their children with Santa and the military members.

"We felt like celebrities," said Capt. Laura Simmons, 12th Space Warning Squadron. "What an honor and blessing to give to the people of Greenland and to be a representative of OJF, Thule Air Base, the United States, Canada, Greenland and Denmark," she said.

Each year the people of Thule AB prove that they are some of the most generous people around and this year they stepped up to the challenge again to provide a great Christmas for the Greenlandic children. When there is a need, Team Thule pulls together and meets it, proving there is nothing cold about the generous hearts of the people stationed 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

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