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Christmas Arrives by Planes and Truckloads from Operation Good Cheer for Thousands of MI Foster Kids

News Release: 11/15/2019

Ann Arbor, Mich.—Hands Across The Water is teaming up with Child and Family Services of Michigan, Inc. and 78 other social service agencies all across Michigan in creating Christmas joy for over 7,000 children in foster care.

Child and Family Services of Michigan, Inc. has sponsored and coordinated their Operation Good Cheer program since its inception in 1971, granting holiday wishes to children in foster care throughout Michigan. Gifts are distributed via plane or ground transportation to recipients currently living in foster care homes, group homes, or residential treatment facilities. Many of them have been removed from their homes due to neglect or abuse.

Operation Good Cheer is an annual, all volunteer, Christmas gift-giving program. Each child in the program creates a “Wish List” with six gift ideas that they would like for Christmas. Donors purchase and wrap gifts from the individual child’s wish list. Gifts are then taken to drop-off locations to await transportation to Oakland County International Airport in Waterford.

On Friday, December 6, 2019 the gifts will be collected from 31 pickup locations via donated ground transportation where they will continue their journey to the Oakland County International Airport. More than 21,276 gifts will be gathered for sorting and loading at the host hangar, graciously provided by Pentastar Aviation.

All distribution flights and local ground transport will depart from Oakland County International Airport on Saturday, December 7, 2019, hundreds of volunteers will be on hand at the airport throughout the two-day period to assist with the distribution effort.

The “Spirit of Good Cheer” flights are coordinated with Oakland County International Airport, air traffic controllers from several airports, and ground transportation (coordinated by Mike Pipia and many others). The gifts will be distributed to participating local social service agencies who will greet flights at 29 airports and trucks at various ground destinations across Michigan. The agencies will then transfer the gifts for final distribution ensuring more than 7,092 children and youth served by the agencies and sponsored by Operation Good Cheer will receive their gifts in time for Christmas.

“Staff look forward to the excitement that builds every year leading up to Operation Good Cheer in anticipation of their offices, the conference rooms and the hallways lines with the generous gifts provided by the community for youth in need. We are so grateful for the opportunity to partner with Child and Family Services of Michigan again this year,” commented Katie Page Sander, Executive Director of Hands Across The Water.

Hands Across The Water is dedicated to making the holiday season a little brighter for the children served by the agency through its foster care and adoption programs. We believe in the spirit of the holiday and the generosity of hundreds of people who donate their time and resources to Operation Good Cheer.

The following airports will be receiving gifts for the 79 social service agencies taking part in

Operation Good Cheer: Sawyer International-Boreal Aviation; Traverse City-AV Flight; Alpena County Regional-Aviation North; Tulip City-Terminal; Gerald R. Ford International-Signature Flight; Muskegon County-Executive Air Transport; Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International-Duncan Aviation; Roben-Hood- Terminal; MBS International-AV Flight; Lenawee County-Wings of Lenawee; Jackson County-Reynolds Field- Terminal; St. Clair County International- Terminal; Southwest Michigan Regional Airport-Terminal; Willow Run- Active Aero; Capital Region Airport Authority-AV Flight; Gladwin Memorial Airport-Terminal; Owosso Community Airport-Terminal; Oscoda County Airport-Terminal; Tuscola Area Airport-Terminal; Hillsdale Municipal Airport-Terminal; Mt. Pleasant Municipal Airport-Terminal; Midland-Barstow Airport; Huron County Memorial Airport-Terminal; DuPont Lapeer Airport; Livingston County Spencer J. Hardy Airport, Mason County Airport-Terminal, Ionia Airport-Terminal; Coldwater Airport; and West Branch Community Airport-Terminal.

For more information about Operation Good Cheer or how to get involved, contact Child and Family Services of Michigan, Inc. at (517) 349-6226 or

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