The weather attempted to put a stop to Tree of Hope 2012 in Minnesota, but thanks to all who participated, there were many hospitalized children who received a gift this holiday season, according to organizers.
The all-volunteer program, started in 1990 by Ray and Celeste Shefland, collects toys for children who are hospitalized during the holidays. Each year, pilots in the area collect thousands of toys and distribute them to hospitals across the state.
This year, the morning of the toy collection was cloudy with low ceilings, low visibility and IFR flying conditions, organizers note. But that didn’t stop the holiday spirit.
Despite the weather, many disappointed pilots drove their toys to Maple Lake Airport (MGG), where more than 25 volunteers sorted the toys according to age groups. Toys were then placed in bags for the individual hospitals, according to their needs. Each bag contained 25 toys.
The bags of toys were then sent with volunteers to 31 hospitals across the state. Toys were delivered by 18 volunteers either flying or driving to their destinations, organizers noted.
“As the last bags of toys were being delivered, we were already starting to receive thank you notes from the hospitals, sharing their plans for holiday parties and how excited the children would be to receive these special gifts,” said Deb Klier, one of the Tree of Hope volunteers.
She noted that numerous aviation organizations, including EAA chapters and flying clubs, were involved in collecting toys and volunteering for the effort.
“If your organization is looking for something to do this year, consider the Tree of Hope,” she said, adding this year’s toy collection date is set for Dec. 7.
For more information: HolidayTreeofHope.org