Children in Italian town hit by earthquake receive gifts from ‘parachuting Santa’

File photo of a parachuting Santa. Source: NML Media

This has not been a good year for the residents of the small Italian town of Amatrice. Nestled in the centre of the country, the community was hit by a devastating earthquake in August 2016 that killed nearly 300 people and left thousands without homes.

However, as the rebuilding begins and the residents try to pick up their lives from the tragedy, a group of Italian skydivers decided to try and bring some joy to the children of Amatrice ahead of Christmas.

According to local media reports, a team of skydivers planned a very special jump over Amatrice. In a full Santa outfit and with his fellow jumpers carrying brightly-colored flares, a team of eight professional skydivers jumped over Amatrice, much to the delight of local children.

“The jump went very well, the landings too, the children were very happy and we didn’t think about the devastation [from the earthquake] because in the children’s smiles, we saw so much light and so much joy,” said one of the skydivers.

Upon landing, ‘Santa’ and his helpers distributed Christmas gifts and candy to the children of the town, doing their part to bring a bit of the Christmas spirit to a place that has seen nothing but despair for the past few months.

“Flying with the parachute opened in free fall, dressed as Santa Claus, brings joy. It’s a beautiful thing because you are doing something good,” said Enrico Marcucci, the diver who wore the Santa outfit.

In addition to the jump, the sky diving association also arranged a donation of over EUR3,000 (US$3,100) to local schools to help with the reconstruction process.

“The people of Amatrice have obviously gone through a terrible ordeal, so we just looked at it and asked ourselves: what could we do to try and cheer them up a little, and give them something to make them laugh for a change,” said one of the divers. “We hope that we’ve achieved that.”