Santa came to the Valley to give joy to those spending this holiday alone.

The Central Mat-Su Fire Department teamed up with the Anchorage Police Department and other first responders to help senior citizens in the area to have a very merry Christmas.

Early Christmas morning, first responders packed up goodies to give back to the community they serve.

"We have 43 deliveries here," Central Mat-Su Fire Capt. Adam Schou said. "That's not including the outlying areas for the rest of the Mat-Su and other areas."

They're doing this all through the Santa Cops and Hero program.

"We go out and deliver Christmas cheer and presents to those people who don't have anyone," Schou said. "So we go out and give them the necessities some companionship and welfare checks." 

This year, nearly 100 elders from Willow to Sutton received gifts, compliments of the Santa Cop program.

Donna Anthony started the program 13 years ago when she worked for the Palmer Police Department. The goal was to provide for seniors in the Mat-Su who may otherwise be alone or unable to celebrate the Christmas holiday.

Anthony has shepherded the program into what it is today: a huge borough-wide effort to help local elders.

Later Christmas Day, a group from the fire department went to a home on Golden Circle where 71-year-old Carolyn Christianson eagerly awaited their visit, decked out in a Christmas cat, light-up holiday sweater. She was home alone with her two cats Magic and Houdini.

This is the third year the fire department has stopped by Christianson's house for Christmas. She became ill with Crohn's disease, so gifts like the cordless blender she received mean a lot to her.

"Oh you found it! Oh my goodness," Christianson said. "Sometimes I can't eat real food anymore and I get tired using a bullet or a stand-still blender."

She was also given sweaters, soap, shampoo and a soft blanket. While Christianson opened the rest of her gifts, first responders checked her alarms, fixed her light outside, shoveled her front steps and salted her driveway.

Thanks to their help, Christianson said she is able to be independent on Christmas and not need as much assistance. It's work the firefighters were happy to do.

"I'm excited to be here," firefighter Jason Wilson said. "I feel that we're making a positive impact on the community. We have a senior citizen group out here who needs help and assistance. We are competent and capable and have time to help these folks out, so we should do it."

Wilson hopes this trend of giving back to the elderly in Alaska will spread.

"This could be your grandma or my grandmother," Wilson said. "I would hope someone would go in and do the same thing for my family or my folks."

Firefighters like Wilson prove that you don't need all the bells and whistles — or reindeer — to spread holiday joy.

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