ST. GEORGE — Students at Hurricane Elementary School will meet nearly two dozen of Santa’s helpers next week when volunteer pilots of the Utah Wing of Angel Flight West deliver a special package during the team’s annual “Santa Flight.”
The team, which includes 22 volunteer pilots, departs from the South Valley Regional Airport located in West Jordan at 8 a.m. Thursday. Once at the school, they will deliver toys, school supplies, books, backpacks and warm clothing to more than 600 children at the elementary school.
Sixteen Scouts have used this as their Eagle Scout service project, gathering donated school supplies, winter coats, books and toys based on the needs of the school.
The school’s Parent Teacher Organization will transport the pilots to the elementary school for an assembly. After being serenaded by the students, Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves will give out hugs and candy canes. Members of the Utah National Guard 2nd Battalion 222nd Field Artillery – or “Triple Deuce” – will help unload the planes and transport the items to the school.
Since the first Santa Flight in 2000, the members of the Utah Wing have worked with their local communities to gather needed supplies and toys and deliver them to Title I schools in rural communities throughout Utah.
Santa Flight coordinators Steve Bollinger, AFW UT wing leader; Phil Titus, AFW outreach coordinator; Joanne Brattain, AFW outreach coordinator; Tim Miller, pilot briefer and Santa; and the Scout leaders have worked on this project since September. Bollinger said the partnership between AFW and the Scouts has been critical in the success of this project.
As with every Angel Flight mission, the pilots donate their time, talent, airplanes, fuel and operating expenses.
Founded in 1983, Angel Flight West is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization that arranges free, nonemergency air transportation in response to health care and other compelling human needs. The Utah Wing has 77 pilots and flies over 100 missions a year within Utah and throughout the Intermountain West.