Special to The Explorer

Santa Claus and the airmen of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base’s Santas in Blue program brightened the holiday for children at a Northwest preschool and kindergarten on Friday.

The airmen continued a 45-year tradition of charitable holiday giving and presenting gifts. This year the airmen answered the wish lists of roughly 900 children, some of which were at Open Arms Preschool & Kindergarten.

“It’s fun for all of us to give gifts to kids that may otherwise not have any,” said Tech Sgt. Christopher Naylor. “There is nothing like seeing a child’s face light up as they open their gifts.”

Since 2007, Larry Cochran, owner of Open Arms Preschool & Kindergarten, has waived the co-pay of foster families, equating to about $60,000 in revenue per year. There are 118 children currently attending Open Arms, 30 of whom are foster children.

“Like many Tucsonans, many of our families are struggling and were not going to celebrate the holidays this year,” said Cochran. “Thanks to the dedication of our local service men and women of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, all of our families will be celebrating this holiday season. Words can’t express how truly grateful we are.”

Since 1965, Santas in Blue has been collecting presents from military personnel and military families for underprivileged children in greater Tucson. This year, the airmen and Santa are presenting gifts to children at Open Arms, at the San Xavier Mission School and at Indian Oasis Elementary School in Sells.

For more information about the Santas in Blue program, go to www.dm.af.mil, or contact Chris Naylor at 228-6218.

For information about Open Arms Preschool & Kindergarten, go to www.openarmspre-k.com.

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