For yet another holiday season, Kingston Health Sciences Centre and 1 Wing Headquarters joined together today to raise the spirits of young patients as part of Operation HOHOHO.
The annual event began as a way to give back to the local community by delivering presents to pediatric patients at Kingston General Hospital (KGH). Originally launched in 2005 by 400 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, one of 1 Wing’s seven squadrons across Canada, this is the second year that 1 Wing Headquarters has organized Operation HOHOHO in Kingston.
“Our members at 1 Wing Headquarters are extremely proud to support and participate to Operation HOHOHO, for the second year now,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Chung Wong, Commanding Officer, 1 Wing Headquarters. “I can see this becoming an annual tradition for our unit, and it warms my heart knowing that we bring a bit of the magic of the festive season to the young patients at KGH.”
Today’s event took place notably different than in the past due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of unit members entering the hospital to hand-deliver gifts as in previous years, the gifts purchased with funds raised by the Headquarters were delivered to the hospital ahead of time to allow for a quarantine period and safe distribution.
A Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CH-146 Griffon helicopter did a flyby of the hospital and landed on the helipad where the children watched Santa’s elves from the safety of their rooms.
“We are so happy to be able to partner with 1 Wing to bring Operation HOHOHO to our patients once again,” said Kerri-Lee Bisonette, Program Manager, Pediatrics, KHSC. “It’s a particularly challenging time to be staying in the hospital, and this event was a great way to brighten the experience for our young patients and their families so close to the holiday season.”
400 Tactical Helicopter Squadron in Borden, Ontario and 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron in Edmonton, Alberta also conducted Operation HOHOHO in their own communities.
Colonel Chris McKenna, Commander, 1 Wing complimented the Operation, saying “I couldn’t be more impressed with our team at 1 Wing Headquarters in Kingston, but also at 400 Tactical Helicopter Squadron in Borden and 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron in Edmonton, for the efforts that go into making Operation HOHOHO happen every year, but especially this year with the added challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nothing makes me happier than knowing that we put smiles on children’s faces this holiday season, at a time when we need it most.”
Top photo – Matthew Manor, Kingston Health Sciences Centre: Elves from 1 Wing Headquarters met Kerri-Lee Bisonette, Program Manager of Pediatrics, on the KGH site helipad to safely deliver some holiday cheer to the hospital’s young patients and their families. (photos submitted)