SALINAS VALLEY — Santa Claus flew into the Mesa Del Rey Airport in King City last month, bringing toys to nearly 1,000 children and meals to 350 families from South Monterey County.
The inaugural “Operation Santa Claus” event was brought to residents by Monterey County Supervisor Chris Lopez and local water utility California Water Service, and supported by Assemblymember Robert Rivas, Fort Hunter Liggett, Food Bank for Monterey County, City of King, California Highway Patrol and Chevron.
At the Dec. 17 event, participants watched Santa fly in the sky via military helicopter, land and then provide pozole meal kits and age-appropriate toys. Participating families for Operation Santa Claus were pre-selected by local school districts based on financial need.
“During the holidays, our community doesn’t hesitate to step up to support one another,” Lopez said. “This event is a product of a close-knit community collaborating to brighten the holidays for hundreds of families and nearly a thousand children. My holiday got a lot more merry with all this cheer in the air.”
Lopez represents the county’s Third District, which includes the cities of King City, Greenfield, Soledad, Gonzales and Salinas, as well as the communities of Bryson-Hesperia, San Ardo, San Lucas, Parkfield, Ranchita Canyon, Jolon, Bradley, Lockwood, Pine Canyon, Arroyo Seco, Chualar and others.
According to Cal Water Local Manager Marc Bloom, Operation Santa Claus came to fruition after Supervisor Lopez and representatives from Cal Water started discussing how hard the past 18 months had been on families and their desire to do something special for King City and South Monterey County youth.
“Cal Water has a passion for improving the lives of those in the communities we serve,” Bloom said. “With the pandemic still upon us, we recognize that families might be struggling more than ever, and we are excited to partner with community leaders and organizations to help brighten the holidays in a new, unique and fun way.”
Cal Water serves about 138,600 people through 34,300 service connections in Salinas and King City, and about 2 million people through 492,600 service connections in California. The utility has provided water service in the area since 1962.