Applications Sought for North Pole 'Toy Summit'

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, 2006 - Military children interested in helping Santa this year have until Nov. 21 to submit their application to participate in the first "Top of the World Toy Summit" at the North Pole.

America Supports You and Operation Homefront, with the support of Wal-Mart, are facilitating this "meeting of the minds" Nov. 29, to help Santa ensure kids around the world have a fun-filled holiday season.

Operation Homefront will select 20 servicemembers' children from applications received through its Web site to serve as "ambassadors of fun" during the summit to be held in North Pole, Alaska, Meredith Leyva, founder of Operation Homefront, said.

Operation Homefront and Wal-Mart are both members of America Supports You, a Defense Department program highlighting ways Americans and the corporate sector support the nation's military.

"We are looking for children between the ages of 5 and 10 who are still inspired by Santa, and would really enjoy every moment of this trip," Leyva said, adding that the deadline to apply is Nov. 21 and that technically, parents will have to apply on behalf of their children. "Those children (selected) can bring a sibling, and will be escorted by one parent.

Selections will be based largely on the inspirational value of the families' stories. Travel and hotel expenses will be paid for those selected.

Five children attending the summit will be selected from the lower 48 states. The remaining 15 will come from military bases in Alaska. Residents of Hawaii and Puerto Rico are not eligible, because their laws prohibit contests like this, Leyva said.

"They're going to help Santa pick out the coolest toys and test drive the latest electronics ... so that all the children around the world can have a wonderful Christmas," Leyva said. "We're going to have a huge party at Santa's workshop, including photos with Santa and ... all kinds of fun events," she said.

After the children help Santa make his plans, they'll take the party back to Fort Wainwright and distribute toys to the children there, Leyva said.

The summit will feature insights from Christmas experts, including Wal-Mart toy guru Scott McCall, and a winter weather authority. "A meteorologist (will be on hand to) check the weather for the reindeer, to ensure all toys are delivered safely on Christmas Eve," she said.

[Web Version:]