All Fort Lee community members are invited to the Betty Vinson Toy Air Lift on Dec. 14, 8 a.m. - 3 p.m., at the Chesterfield County Airport.
This family-friendly event will feature a wide assortment of holiday music and a visit by Santa Claus. Each child in attendance will receive a free gift. Participants also can show their support of the many pilots who will be arriving with donated toys that will go to Fort Lee’s Holiday Helper program (read more about it on Page 18).
Throughout the morning, aircraft will be arriving from as far away as Pennsylvania to deliver the gifts that will go to military families in need this holiday season. Santa’s arrival is scheduled for 10 a.m. He also will hand off his donated toys to a group of military volunteers who will transport them to Fort Lee. Santa will stick around until 2 p.m. to visit with children, hear their holiday wishes and give each of them a toy.
The music lineup for the day includes the L.C. Bird High School choir, who will sing Christmas Carols from 9:30-11:30 a.m. They will be followed by Walt Street, a former member of the Air Force Band, who will be performing from 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. The Bon Air Strings – a group of youth violinists ranging from ages 5-15 – will play Christmas music from 1-2:30 p.m.
Sponsored by the Virginia Chapter of the Ninety Nines, an international organization of women pilots, this annual air lift reflects America’s support for its fighting forces. Last year, the pilots flew in more than 1,000 toys and an equal number of gift cards from commercial retailers and restaurants. The gift cards go to the McGuire Veterans Hospital in Richmond.
Homeless veterans and their children also benefit from the air lift. Barbara Headley, vice-chair of the local Ninety Nines chapter said her organization believes that showing its support of the military is “just the right thing to do,” particularly during the holiday season. “They sacrifice a lot for us,” she said, “and this is our chance to express our thanks.”
Participants are welcome to donate a new, unwrapped toy or gift card to the Holiday Helper program during the event. For more information about the program that benefits military members at Fort Lee, call (804) 305-7599.
The Chesterfield Airport is located at 7427 Airfield Drive, North Chesterfield. Families are encouraged to dress for cold weather since most of the activities will be outdoors.