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Special delivery: Santa & crew take treats, gifts to Rampart

Every holiday season, Alyeska staff and TAPS workers at the Yukon Response Base (YRB) and in Fairbanks rally together to bring holiday festivities to kids in neighboring communities along the Yukon River.

The work starts early with fundraising and gift shopping in Fairbanks, fueled by generous donations locally and from Anchorage employees. Though many helpful hands are needed to wrap all the gifts, Melinda Andon, O&M Coordinator, led this year’s effort to prepare several parts the undertaking – from purchasing gifts to staging for volunteers to gather and package presents.

“I’ve always loved the holiday season,” said Melinda. “It’s important for me to give back where and when I can. So many people stepped up this year – Lisa Kangas and Richelle Talvi helped us shop and wrap gifts during their time off. This project is a great way to come together and have a positive impact!”

The delivery team – led by Alyeska’s Phil Huelskoetter and joined by Mark Steinman, Lisa Kangas, Patty Miller (NMS) and Carl Terry (Maritime) – landed a helicopter in Rampart on Saturday, Dec. 16, and brought sweet fresh and baked treats, bundles of gifts and a cookie decorating activity to the party.

2023 marked Lisa’s first toy delivery via helicopter and looks forward to future visits.

“I hope this is something that each child remembers for the rest of their lives – a bright spot in their childhood,” said Kangas. “I grew up in a village and had many bright sports of my own and am grateful for the opportunity to take part in this year’s event.”

Alyeska’s Jeannette Stepovich and Ramy Brooks were also part of the planning group and have kept this employee-led grassroots effort a priority for pipeline holiday tradition for several years. Several Rampart residents have maintained partnerships with Alyeska since 1995 through Alyeska’s Emergency Response Program.