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Volunteer pilots help Santa fly Christmas to a Southern Utah School


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PAROWAN, Iron County — Volunteer pilots from across the Wasatch Front played Santa's reindeer Thursday by filling small planes with loads of gifts and flying them to Parowan Elementary School in Iron County.

Twenty-one airplanes took part in the so-called Santa Flight to deliver 8,000 pounds of gifts and supplies to the kids.

The planes left Ogden Wednesday for the flight down south.

A true Christmas never happens alone, it's never the product of just one person, even if there is that one guy who gets most of the attention.

Kids cheered as the Santa Flight arrived.

"You feel the kids' excitement and just the Christmas cheer here, and it's just the highlight of our year," Steve Bollinger said. He's the Utah Wing leader for Angel Flight West.

Angel Flight West pilots volunteer year-round to fly cancer patients and others in need to hospitals and treatment centers.

Parowan Elementary School principal Trevor Heaton said the students couldn't wait to see Santa.

"They were really excited. We got on the bus this morning. It's a great way to start out the Christmas season," Heaton said.

He said thanks to all of the gifts, his school will also get supplies and money — all of it donated.

"It helps us purchase some of the things that we haven't been able to purchase in the past with some of the opportunities that come with this," Heaton said. "Most of all, it gives every student in our school something that they can take home for Christmas."

Bollinger said, "There was a big emphasis on winter clothing. So we've been collecting coats and hats and shoes and gloves, just anything to keep the kids warm."

It's a task that not even Santa could do alone.

"It's really great to be able to see these wonderful children and be able to visit them and let them know that people love them and care about them," Santa said.

It's a big gift delivery that they will do all over again next year.

Santa said, "It's just fantastic."

The National Guard's 222 Battalion out of Cedar City helped bring all those gifts back to Parowan Elementary.

Angel Flight volunteers were also able to bring in about $6,000 that can be used to buy other needs for the school.

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Mike Anderson
Mike Anderson often doubles as his own photographer, shooting and editing most of his stories. He came to KSL in April 2011 after working for several years at various broadcast news outlets.

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