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Enos and Lynette Vega and Operation Santa-Nevada would like to thank the Elko community for their outstanding support in 2011. Once again, the community joined together in a common goal of letting our dedicated service men and women know they are not forgotten during the holidays and during tough economic times. 

Operation Santa, started in 2004 through the Marine Corps Family Foundation, is a holiday outreach program for deployed service men and women. Ed and Terri Dillon started Operation Santa-Nevada eight years ago when their Marine son was on his second deployment to Iraq. After six years of volunteering their time they felt it was time to turn the reigns over, to be able to share with someone else the opportunity to be blessed. This is when Enos and I became involved.

I know firsthand how difficult it is to have family serving in the military in another country. I had a daughter in the Air Force that had a deployment to Iraq. During the holidays it is a tough time for anybody to be away from their families, let alone in another country. This gave us an opportunity to share Christmas with those overseas. Since the Dillons’ first year of sharing their Christmas with 45 Marines based on the Iraq-Syrian border, it has grown to sharing Christmas with over 7,000 adopted men and women of our Armed Forces during the holidays. 

What does Operation Santa-Nevada do? We provide individual candy-filled Christmas socks along with other goodies to each service man and woman adopted. The individual unit is provided with a Christmas tree and decorations. Along with these Christmas-related items, additional hot chocolate, apple cider, candy, coffee, tea, socks, etc., are given to the units. When possible, paperback books, magazines, hygiene products and such are included.

A special thank-you to Flag View Intermediate School, Spring Creek High School, third-graders at Sage, first-graders at Carlin, and kindergartners at Owyhee for their support in writing letters and making Christmas cards to send to our service men and women along with the Christmas socks.

For the past two years several schools have collected items for Operation Santa-Nevada. Adobe Middle School collected toothpaste and tooth brushes. Flag View Intermediate School collected hot chocolate and cider, white tube socks and gum. Spring Creek Middle School collected money to buy items. Spring Creek High School collected money and a variety of items.

Along with the schools several businesses, churches, organizations, and individuals gave their support by donating items or money to buy needed items such as candy, hot chocolate, socks, coffee, etc., for our adopted groups. Thanks to the generous donations from Barrick Gold of North America, Newmont North America and several private donations, we were able to meet our shipping fees, which is the greatest expense of the program. 

Each year, Elko High School FCCLA (under the direction of Barbara Hereford) donates material, cuts, sews and fills 400 Christmas socks. JJ Konakis and several other ladies in the community also donate their time and talent in making Christmas socks. This year, Spring Creek High School Leadership (under the direction of Andy Hendrickson) filled 400 Christmas socks.

This year, Operation Santa-Nevada adopted the following military personnel:      

• 750 Christmas socks were sent to 3rd CEB H & S Company-Afghanistan

• 50 Christmas socks were sent to service personnel stationed abroad

The POW*MIA Family Awareness of Elko has organized and conducted the Operation Santa-Nevada motorcycle run. Thank you to all who participated, especially given the weather this time of year. Please keep Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl and his family in your prayers, whom was captured on June 30, 2009, by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

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If we listed everyone who helped support Operation Santa-Nevada, I would use an entire page of the newspaper. Please know that your support, whether it be in time, work, newspaper space, radio/TV air time, allowing donation boxes, organizing, or donations is greatly appreciated. Operation Santa-Nevada would not happen without the help and support of our community. 

Operation Santa-Nevada has been a blessing to our family and for that I am forever grateful, but for the coming year of 2012, I am looking for someone to take over Operation Santa-Nevada. If you are interested in making a difference in the lives of our military personnel please call me at 775-397-191, it is an experience worth the undertaking. 

Once again, Enos and I want to say “thank you” to our community for your generosity, time and support over the last eight years. Operation Santa-Nevada would not be possible without the support of the community. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Enos and Lynette Vega

Operation Santa-Nevada Coordinators

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