Operation Good Cheer

Gifts arriving for local kids

Ashley Rae Weber, center, helps unload a gift Saturday at Boreal Aviation at K.I. Sawyer as part of Operation Good Cheer. Local agencies participated in the event, with gifts donated from around the state for local children. Weber is a licensing specialist with U.P. Family Solutions. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

K.I. SAWYER — It was like a magical plane, with wrapped gifts coming — and coming — and coming out its doors.

Actually, several planes loaded with presents made stops at Boreal Aviation at Sawyer International Airport Saturday as part of Operation Good Cheer.

U.P. Family Solutions, Teaching Family Homes of Upper Michigan, and Child and Family Services of the U.P. Inc. teamed up in the annual all-volunteer gift-giving program of Child and Family Services of Michigan Inc. The recipients of the gifts live in foster care homes, group homes or residential treatment facilities in Michigan, with many of them removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect.

According to CFS of Michigan, each child in the program creates a “wish list” with six gifts they want for Christmas. Donors purchase and wrap gifts from those lists, with the gifts taken to drop-off locations to await transportation to various airports from downstate Oakland County International Airport.

More than 19,000 presents were donated by donors across the state, said Ashley Rae Weber, licensing specialist with UPFS.

Katey Schleinz, a foster care specialist with U.P. Family Solutions, unloads a gift Saturday, with youngsters’ help, at Boreal Aviation at K.I. Sawyer as part of Operation Good Cheer. Local agencies participated in the event, with gifts donated from around the state for local children. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

It was an activity that involved people of all ages; some of the young recipients, along with staff from the involved agencies, helped unload the presents from the planes.

“We get to come up here and unload and go back to the office and organize and deliver it to all the children,” Weber said.

She enjoys seeing the results of what she called the “amazing” generosity of the donors.

“Of course, every child deserves a magical Christmas, especially foster children who are going through the difficult times with the situation that they are in, so anything that we can do to brighten their Christmas as well as help out the foster parents is what we’re all here for,” Weber said.

The kids, of course, love it.

Ashley Rae Weber and Robert Lambert unload gifts Saturday at Boreal Aviation at K.I. Sawyer as part of Operation Good Cheer. Local agencies participated in the event, with gifts donated from around the state for local children. Weber is a licensing specialist with U.P. Family Solutions while Lambert is a pilot with Williams International. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

And apparently so do the adults involved in Operation Good Cheer.

“I think the workers have a really fun time delivering those presents,” Weber said. “And then they get to open them on Christmas for them.”

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.