The Marines flew to Kotzebue, which is 549 miles (884 kilometers) northwest of Anchorage and 26 miles (42 kilometers) above the Arctic Circle, on a KC-130 operated by the Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 based in Okinawa, Japan.
From there, they rode commercial flights and snowmobiles to get toys to 2,500 children in 11 villages, the Juneau Empire reported.
The Department of Defense tweeted the marines were from the 4th Law Enforcement Battalion, and distributed toys to children in remote villages in support of the Toys for Tots program
Cpl. Brendan Mullin, who took pictures of the event, could hear children gasp when a Marine Santa entered a pre-kindergarten classroom.
“When you can see the smile through the mask, you know it’s a big, genuine smile,” Mullin said.
Their joyful job was part of the Toys for Tots program run by the Marine Corps and a nonprofit foundation. Started in 1947, the program now delivers 18 million toys to 7 million less fortunate children each year.
“It’s really just to benefit kids. The sparkle in the kids’ eyes, that makes it worth it,” said Capt. Keith G. Lowell, a Marine stationed in Anchorage who oversaw the mission to Alaska’s Northwest Arctic Borough.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Marines help Santa deliver Christmas presents in Alaska