This weekend, Operation Good Cheer will take to the skies to deliver more than 20,000 Christmas gifts to over 7,000 children in foster care throughout Michigan. Donated gifts will arrive for sorting inside a Pentastar Aviation hangar at Oakland County International Airport (OCIA) on Friday, December 6. Volunteers will then load the gifts into more than 200 airplanes for delivery to 29 airports around the state on Saturday, December 7.
“Oakland County loves supporting Operation Good Cheer because it has such a positive impact on thousands of children in foster care throughout Michigan,” Oakland County Executive David Coulter said. “We’re grateful for the hundreds of volunteers who are making a difference in the lives of these children.”
Check out the video below to see their hard work in action:
Each year since 1971, thousands of foster children make out their holiday wish lists for Operation Good Cheer. Generous donors purchase the gifts. Trucking companies then pick up and deliver these gifts at no charge to OCIA where volunteers sort and wrap them. Pilots who have donated their time and aircraft then fly the gifts to airports around Michigan so they can get to their intended recipients. To date, more than 100,000 individuals have had their holiday wishes come true.
“It’s an honor for Oakland County International Airport and our friends at Pentastar Aviation to be the base of operations to deliver Christmas presents to thousands of foster children and adults with disabilities throughout Michigan every year,” said J. David VanderVeen, director of central services for Oakland County, who oversees OCIA. “It’s an impressive sight to see a hangar full of presents being wrapped by Operation Good Cheer volunteers to be loaded onto waiting aircraft.”
“The generosity of the thousands that volunteer their time, donate gifts, and make their aircraft available so that these children receive something special for Christmas is amazing,” said Greg Schmidt, president and CEO of Pentastar Aviation. “We are pleased to once again serve as the main collection point for this event. It allows us to help over 7,000 children celebrate Christmas and is a great way for us to kick off the holiday season.”
Operation Good Cheer is sponsored and coordinated by Child and Family Services of Michigan (CFSM). Sherry Brackenwagen, Administration Direction of CFSM, shares that “The contribution that Oakland County International Airport has made to Operation Good Cheer has just been phenomenal. These children write expressions of thanks that they just cannot believe that there are people who really do care for them. And that’s always been something that keeps me enthused about the program.” Last year alone, Operation Good Cheer’s impact was significant:
- 21,477 Gifts delivered
- 7,159 Recipients
- 500 Volunteers on the ground at OCIA
- 250 Donor groups and individuals
- 202 Volunteer pilots
- 79 Affiliated social service agencies
- 29 Airports and ground destinations statewide