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In the Pacific Ocean’s Micronesian islands, Santa Claus comes not by sleigh but by C-130 Hercules.

The 55th annual Operation Christmas Drop, a joint effort between Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, and the 36th Airlift Squadron at Yokota Air Base, Japan, kicked off Friday with three flights, according to an Andersen spokesman.

In total, 15 flights are planned through Tuesday, with 74 drops to be made over 71 islands, making this the largest Operation Christmas Drop yet, according to military officials.

The holiday humanitarian mission is intended to help residents of the small Micronesian islands that are without airstrips or major ports, according to a U.S. Air Force news release.

Toys make up about 5 percent of this year’s items. Nonperishable and canned food, clothes, supplies and tools make up the rest, according to Andersen officials.

The list includes new clothes and linens, sports equipment, short-handle garden tools such as picks and machetes, school and dental supplies, snorkeling equipment and fishing gear. Most islanders depend on fishing for their livelihood, as island volcanic rock and sand is not conducive to farming, officials said.

Donations were received from residents across the island as well as servicemembers and civilians at Andersen and Naval Base Guam.

Volunteers on Andersen spent the past month building crates on weekends for the annual holiday parachute drops.

Four to five C-130s with complete crews, flying each day from Andersen, were to drop 400-pound boxes during the mission, Andersen officials said.


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