ST. GEORGE — Christmas is about to come early for 400 Southern Utah children – thanks in part to the 24 volunteer pilots of the Utah Wing of Angel Flight West.
The annual Santa Flight will commence at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 8, from several Salt Lake City airports with a destination of the Cedar City Airport where they will deliver donated toys, school supplies, books, backpacks and warm clothing to the 400 children at Parowan Elementary School, according to a news release from the Utah Wing of Angel Flight West.
Angel Flight pilots and various community groups throughout Utah have gathered donated school supplies, winter coats, books and toys based on the needs of the school.
Additionally, KUED-TV/PBS Utah will provide over 600 books through its Ready to Learn program, which encourages literacy and other key family development programs.
“We are very grateful for the generosity of our pilots and the community groups who have raised money and gathered donations so that even during this tough economic time, we can bring some holiday cheer to these kids,” AFW Wing Leader Steve Bollinger said in the press release.
The children will be bused to the airport and await Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves in the North Hangar at Sphere One Aviation. Once Santa arrives, there will be a short assembly, hosted by Principal Trevor Heaton. The children will serenade the pilots with holiday songs and Bollinger will present the donations to the school.
Members of the National Guard Triple Deuce will help unload the planes and transport the donations to the school.
Since the first Santa Flight in 2000, the members of the Utah Wing have worked with local communities to gather needed supplies and toys and deliver them to Title One Schools in rural communities throughout Utah, the news release said.
Santa Flight coordinators include Bollinger, AFW UT Wing Leader and AFW Outreach Coordinators Phil Titus and Joanne Brattain. They have worked on this project since September.
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, non-emergency air travel for children and adults with serious medical conditions and other compelling needs. The Utah Wing has 92 pilots and flies 150-plus missions a year within Utah and throughout the intermountain west, according to the news release.
The schedule of events follows:
- 8:30 a.m.: Depart various area Airports
- 9:30-10:30: ETA at Cedar City Airport
- 10:30: Assembly at the North Hangar at Sphere One
Note: Date is subject to change, depending on the weather.