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CEDAR CITY — While we’re used to hearing of Santa Claus flying in his sleigh, students at Enoch Elementary School recently watched him walk out of a small airplane instead. He brought with him about 8,000 pounds of school supplies aboard 28 planes flown by volunteer pilots.
“We’re thankful that the planes are landing, and getting tons of supplies for our school,” fourth-grader, Maddy Horton said.
Hundreds of students from the school lined up inside a hangar at Cedar City Regional Airport to greet Santa, Friday.
Santa Claus started teaming up with Angel Flight West’s Utah Wing in 2001 to bring supplies to underprivileged children. The effort eventually turned to selecting a different Title I school each year.
“If you take a picture of all these excited youngsters, that’s what makes it worthwhile” Santa Claus said. “And if we could layer on top of that helping families where we can, then that makes it even doubly worthwhile.”
The Santa Flight, however, is only a small part of what the charity does each year.
“During the year, we’re flying patients that may be cancer patients coming in for chemotherapy or something like that,” wing leader, Steve Bollinger said. “The pilots donate their planes, their time, the cost of the fuel, any expenses. And we donate that so that we can fly these patients to wherever they need to get treatment.”
Along with the 8,000 pounds of supplies delivered Friday, principal Daniel Ekker received $6,000 that can be used to buy whatever the school needs.
“This is going to be huge for our students, our parents, our teachers. It’s going to really help out,” Ekker said. “That giving part of Christmas really makes this come home.”
Donations were gathered by Boy Scouts working on an Eagle Scout project.
Bollinger says the generosity seen today is similar to what volunteer pilots strive to give all year long.
“Everybody’s just so generous, and it’s just very rewarding in and of itself to be able to help these patients out,” Bollinger said.