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55th Annual Operation Kids Christmas

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Nearly 200 Airmen wait to escort children into the Pacific Coast Club for Operation Kids Christmas here Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. OKC is an annual event, organized and run by a private organization, in which about 200 local children are brought on base and given the opportunity to play games, meet Santa and enjoy the companionship of volunteer military members (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Yvonne Morales)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Nearly 200 Airmen wait to escort children into the Pacific Coast Club for Operation Kids Christmas here Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. OKC is an annual event, organized and run by a private organization, in which about 200 local children are brought on base and given the opportunity to play games, meet Santa and enjoy the companionship of volunteer military members (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Yvonne Morales)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Children receive backpacks full of goodies from a volunteer while on their way to the Pacific Coast Club ballroom for the Operation Kids Christmas event here Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. OKC is an annual event, organized and run by a private organization, in which about 200 local children are brought on base and given the opportunity to play games, meet Santa and enjoy the companionship of volunteer military members (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Yvonne Morales)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Airman Basic Miranda Seeber, 533rd Training Squadron student, ecorts children to receive backpacks full of goodies from a volunteer while on their way to the Pacific Coast Club ballroom for the Operation Kids Christmas event here Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. OKC is an annual event, organized and run by a private organization, in which about 200 local children are brought on base and given the opportunity to play games, meet Santa and enjoy the companionship of volunteer military members (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Yvonne Morales)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Local children and escorts gather for a magician’s act during the Operation Kids Christmas event at the Pacific Coast Club here Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. OKC is an annual event, organized and run by a private organization, in which about 200 local children are brought on base and given the opportunity to play games, meet Santa and enjoy the companionship of volunteer military members (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Yvonne Morales)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Local children and escorts gather for a magician’s act during the Operation Kids Christmas event at the Pacific Coast Club here Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. OKC is an annual event, organized and run by a private organization, in which about 200 local children are brought on base and given the opportunity to play games, meet Santa and enjoy the companionship of volunteer military members (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Yvonne Morales)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Children and their escorts eat lunch during the Operation Kids Christmas event at the Pacific Coast Club here Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. OKC is an annual event, organized and run by a private organization, in which about 200 local children are brought on base and given the opportunity to play games, meet Santa and enjoy the companionship of volunteer military members (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Yvonne Morales)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Children and their escorts eat lunch during the Operation Kids Christmas event at the Pacific Coast Club here Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. OKC is an annual event, organized and run by a private organization, in which about 200 local children are brought on base and given the opportunity to play games, meet Santa and enjoy the companionship of volunteer military members (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Yvonne Morales)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – A local youth receives a bag of presents from Santa Clause during the Operation Kids Christmas event at the Pacific Coast Club here Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. OKC is an annual event, organized and run by a private organization, in which about 200 local children are brought on base and given the opportunity to play games, meet Santa and enjoy the companionship of volunteer military members. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Yvonne Morales)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – A local youth receives a bag of presents from Santa Clause during the Operation Kids Christmas event at the Pacific Coast Club here Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. OKC is an annual event, organized and run by a private organization, in which about 200 local children are brought on base and given the opportunity to play games, meet Santa and enjoy the companionship of volunteer military members. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Yvonne Morales)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif -- On a cold December morning, hundreds of Airmen in their service dress stood in line to greet children for Operation Kids Christmas.

This year was the 55th annual Operation Kids Christmas, an event put on for underprivileged children. Two-Hundred children from the local communities Lompoc, Santa Maria and Santa Ynez enjoyed various entertainment, received gifts to unwrap on Christmas Day, and had their own personal military escort to spend time with during the event. The children had the chance to learn about holiday safety and meet Sparky, Smokey the Bear and Santa Clause. In addition, the children's families received a food box filled with all the necessary items for a traditional Christmas dinner.

In order to put on this event, a year long program of preparation made Operation Kids Christmas possible. There were approximately 600 volunteers who helped fundraise throughout the year, bought and wrapped presents, escorted, and set up and tore down for the event.

"Our vision with this is just to make sure that we have an unforgettable experience for these children," said Capt. Angelica Heiderich, Operation Kids Christmas coordinator. "As soon as they get off the bus they see all the military escorts, they see different elves and what not that we have there. They shake hands and they're just excited to come inside and have a great time."

Operation Kids Christmas started in 1959 and its many anniversaries have allowed people who attended the event as children to come back and visit as adults.

"As an adult to revisit it does bring back a lot of fond memories," said Deanna Libbon, unit director for the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Maria Valley. "When I did come here as a child, it was an amazing experience for me... and to be able to work for the Boys and Girls club now and bring children that I know would appreciate it as much as I did is just a gift."