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Operation Good Cheer Brings Christmas to Thousands of Michigan Foster Kids

’Twas the weeks before Christmas, and by ground and by air,

Child and Family Charities has good cheer to spare.

For thousands of children throughout this fine state,

Volunteers steadily worked to ensure the holidays were great.

Child and Family Charities is once again launching Operation Good Cheer, teaming up with 93 social service agencies and hundreds of donors, volunteers and pilots to create memories for children in foster care currently residing in out-of-home placement across Michigan.

“Spirit of Good Cheer” flights and ground distribution for the annual volunteer-based gift-giving program will begin Dec. 3 from Oakland County International Airport, delivering 20,000 gifts to more than 6,600 children across the state of Michigan.

The children who participate in Operation Good Cheer are survivors of abuse, neglect and abandonment. Through their foster care agencies, each child in the program creates a wish list with six gift ideas they would like for Christmas. Child and Family Charities distributes the lists to hundreds of individual and group donors who purchase and wrap the gifts specially chosen for each individual child. Every child and youth participating in the program receives at least three gifts, including items such as toys, books, clothing, bikes and electronics.

On Dec. 2, the gifts will be collected from 36 pickup locations, where they will make their journey to the Oakland County International Airport via donated ground transportation. The hangar, provided by Pentastar Aviation, will have hundreds of volunteers on hand at the airport to assist with sorting and loading the gifts for distribution to infants, children and youths across Michigan.

The Spirit of Good Cheers flights are coordinated with Oakland County airport, air traffic controllers from several airports and ground transportation coordinated by many others. Hundreds of volunteer pilots will fly their own aircraft, which will be filled to capacity with Christmas gifts to 36 airports throughout the state.

“This program would not be possible without the thousands of dedicated and committed volunteer and local partners helping others in their time of need and showing that they care. This is what the spirit of Christmas is about — people caring for and helping,” said Sherry Brackenwagen, director of Operation Good Cheer for Child and Family Charities. “This ‘spirit’ is what brings happiness and hope to thousands of Michigan’s foster care children every holiday season. We are grateful for local support as well. Thanks to The Clean Team, we have a place to process local donations for distribution throughout the state.”