Pilots needed for Operation Good Cheer


– Photos courtesy of Oakland County

Operation Good Cheer needs pilots to volunteer their time and aircraft to help deliver Christmas gifts to children in need all over Michigan the weekend of Dec. 2-3. The pilots will fly from Oakland County International Airport (OCIA) to airports throughout the state.

“More than 5,000 children and adults with special needs experience the magic of Christmas because of the generosity of the volunteers and donors of Operation Good Cheer,” County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “But this year, there is a shortage of pilots. So, we’re putting out the call for local pilots to step up and help give these children a Christmas to remember.”

Each year, thousands of infants, children, teenagers, and adults with disabilities make their Christmas 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 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 87,000 individuals have had their Christmas wishes come true.

“If you ever want to experience the true meaning of Christmas, volunteer for Operation Good Cheer,” said J. David VanderVeen, director of central services for Oakland County, who oversees OCIA. “It really is a sight to see when hundreds of volunteers prepare thousands of Christmas gifts that will brighten a child’s holiday.”

To volunteer as a pilot, go to OakGov.com/aviation, click on the “Operation Good Cheer” link, and fill out the pilot application. To learn more about Operation Good Cheer, go to CFSM.org and look for Operation Good Cheer.

Operation Good Cheer by the numbers in 2015:

• 16,000 gifts delivered.
• 5,394 recipients.
• 500 volunteers on the ground at OCIA.
• 257 gift donors.
• 151 volunteer pilots.
• 68 affiliated social service agencies.
• 25 volunteer transport companies.
• 24 airports and ground destinations statewide.


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