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CENTENNIAL, Colo. – A 7th annual charity airlift provided hundreds of veterans and their families with some much-needed holiday help on Sunday.
Ten-thousand pounds of donated food and toys were flown from Centennial Airport to some of the more rural communities throughout the state. The nine cities included Montrose/Delta on the Western Slope; Durango and Cortez in the southwest; Alamosa, Pueblo, and Las Animas in southern Colorado; and Burlington, Fort Morgan, and Greeley on the Eastern Plains.
The distribution was a collaborative effort. It was made possible by the Colorado Aviation Business Association (CABA), the Veterans of Foreign War (VFW), Metropolitan State University's Precision Flight Team and private pilots who have donated their time and aircraft.
Each year, CABA has collected food and toys at different aviation businesses and events around the Metro Area. This year, collection started back in October. The association placed donation boxes in various airports and business locations along the Front Range and the Western Slope.
The donations were later loaded onto donated aircraft and flown to the above-mentioned locations throughout Colorado.
Collected goods were weighed, split onto nearly 30 planes and flown out. They were given out to homeless veterans, and veterans in need as well as their families.
CABA crews told Denver7 the items would help between 600 and 800 veterans and their families.
“There's cereals, there's all non-perishable items that can last a while and make their Christmas a little better,” Edward Aitken said.
He is a Vietnam Vet and also the acting VFW State Commander.
Past VFW State Commander and Charity Airlift co-founder Ron Davies commented on why he started the project, “They're [Veterans] there, they need help and we're just lucky enough to be able to help them.”
“It's one thing to try and explain it to people, and it's another thing to show them,” Ron’s daughter, Brittany, said. She was also instrumental in getting the charity off the ground.
Since the Charity Airlift started, CABA estimates they’ve assisted 1,715 families. A release also stated cumulative pounds of food from the past six events equaled 25,900.
This Sunday brought a record-setting show of nearly 30 aircraft that delivered enough food and toys to serve between 600 and 800 veterans and their families.
First time Charity Airlift pilot, Gary Mancuso shared his reaction, “Maybe we'll affect 6,000 [people]. Because more people will find a way to donate in their own form or fashion. Maybe not necessarily flying, but being able to give a can to the food bank, or a toy to a child.