Operation Christmas Drop celebrates 69th Year of Airdroppinggifts & supplies to Palau

Despite this year’s unique challenges presented by COVID-19, Operation Christmas Drop is proceeding to celebrate its 69th year of airdropping gifts and supplies to the islands of Palau.
The Christmas Drop is taking place in Malakal, Kayangel, Peleliu, Angaur, Sonsorol, and Pulo Anna. This is the first year that a drop is taking place in Koror State.
Operation Christmas Drop has been an annual tradition since 1952, in which US Air Force personnel fly over various islands in the Micronesian region and drop packages attached to parachutes, filled with toys, food, clothing, and other supplies. The drop involves four Air Force C-130J Super Hercules aircraft and a Japan Air Self-Defense Force C-130H Hercules, which take off from Anderson Air Force Base in Guam.
The drop commenced on Sunday, December 6, around midday. The second drop took place yesterday, and future drops are scheduled to take place tomorrow and Thursday, also around midday, weather permitting.
This year, however, has called for some adjustments due to COVID-19.
Normally, the drops take place over islands in Palau, the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). This year, however, the FSM has opted to be left out in fear that some of the supplies will carry the virus. The islands of Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae, which are some of the few places in the world which remain COVID-free, are also extremely remote, with very limited access to healthcare.
This means that Palau is receiving a larger share of the 70,000 pounds of goods collected for the drop.
The US Embassy of Koror has said that, despite the presence of COVID in Guam, a series of measures are being taken to ensure that traces of the virus are not transported on the delivered supplies.
“This year has presented difficult challenges, but the Operation Christmas Drop Team has been hard at work to minimize the risk to the contributors, volunteers, and beneficiaries of the aid we aim to provide,” the US Embassy said in a statement.
The process of assembling the gifts, which are donated by families in Guam, has continued throughout the year, beginning with “contact-free” donation drive-thru’s. Once the donations were delivered, they sat for seven-day “cool-down” periods before being opened or sorted by teams wearing PPE’s. The gifts were then transferred from storage sites to bundle-build locations five days before building the drop-packages. The package-assembly teams, who had their temperatures checked and wore PPE’s, worked in shifts to put together the Christmas bundles, and, once finished, disinfected the bundles with bleach-solutions. The packages were loaded onto the aircrafts by Air Mobility Command (AMC) air crews and load teams.
The packages contain a varied mix of supplies, from fishing equipment to dried fruits and coffee.

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