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We typically give some breathing room to the hospital during the busy holidays—and also have provided our own group more time for family during this season, too. Not this year! An assortment of Santa’s Helpers—disguised as pilots—descended upon the Hughes Spalding Children’s Hospital in mid-December to bring some cheer to all we encountered.
Our sleighs . . . errrr, wagons, were filled with Santa-size bags, full of stuffed animals and handheld games. Much laughter and joy was spread throughout the three floors of children’s rooms, clinics, and the ER waiting area, but we also made sure the nurses and doctors got some of the Ho-Ho-Ho! as well.
Another great visit, topped-off with a warm retreat at the nearby lunch market to continue the good fellowship. Nice way to cap-off 2017 . . . putting smiles on kids faces. (See associated photos in Gallery.)
The Atlanta Chapter made a hospital visit in October, before the busy holiday season. It was to the Hughes Spalding Children’s Hospital in downtown Atlanta. We have a longstanding relationship with them and they always welcome us with smiles.
Our mixed group (three airlines; ExpressJet, Delta, Endeavor) hit all three floors of the children’s hospital. On the second floor was a large waiting area for the different clinics. It was unusually full. We “divided and conquered”, splitting into small groups and going back-and-fort to the wagons (where we had the toys). There was a lady who is one of the major fundraisers for the hospital. She and her small group of prospective donors happened to follow us into this room and observed the before-and-after in the waiting area. This lady made it a point to stop us before we departed the building. She noted there was some uncertainty in the kids about what was going on as we were passing out the stuffed animals and electronic games. This is normal—since they don’t normally see a bunch of pilots pulling wagons and passing out toys! Anyhow, after we left and the children resumed sitting with their parents, she observed lots of smiles and a high degree of excitement throughout the many kids and adults. This fundraising group paused for several minutes and the joy on the kids’ faces continued to last.
We really do make a difference.
For the kids,
Pilots For Kids
I decided to squeeze-in one more summer visit before the busier autumn season begins. It was still very warm, but there has certainly been a hint in the air of what’s around the corner for north Georgia.
We have a new coordinator at Hughes Spalding Children’s Hospital, Ms. MaKaylie Morris. She made us feel very welcome! She spends most of her time as the Child Life Specialist at the hospital. We look forward to many more visits—and she also wanted us to know, “The more the merrier,” with respect to holiday visits. Be prepared to see more on this in the near future.
The visit was on a Tuesday, which, we soon found out, is the day least-populated with kids at the hospital. Our downsized group, due to last-minute (Reserve) flying and someone tending to their own health, was just about the right size. We did, however, have three new folks, which was the perfect way to start with Pilots For Kids.
The several different Sesame Street stuffed animals were a big hit, but so were the Rubik’s cubes for some of the older kids. There were also several fidget spinner toys passed-out, too!
The relaxing meal afterwards, at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market, was filled with . . . airline talk, of course!
Those attending: Rich Striker (Delta), Anthony Hawkins (ExpressJet), Brooks Broeckelman (Delta), Stephen Elrod (JetBlue), and Don Myers (Delta)
Atlanta Area Coordinator
Another short-notice visit ended up with just the right number of PFKers, since the Hughes Spalding Children’s Hospital had fewer patients than any other time we’ve been there. This is good news, right?! We had one first-timer join us as we split into two teams to cover all the clinics and waiting rooms. Even though Ms. Sondra Brooks, the volunteer coordinator, was juggling three other activities, she still made sure we had the volunteers we needed to navigate through each floor.
The quick visit meant more time to share an early lunch across the street before heading back to our normal routines.
Those smile-makers attending: Ben Harris (Delta), Ryan Hickman (ExpressJet), Matt Person (ExpressJet), Hannah Peavy (ExpressJet), Steve Taylor (Delta), and Don Myers (Delta)
Atlanta Area Coordinator
Due to schedule coordination issues, we had a last-minute notice for our recent visit to the Hughes Spalding Childrenâ€™s Hospitalâ€”but that certainly didnâ€™t dampen the turnout. It might have been a record, but, if not, having seven (7) first-timers was amazing!
Once again, we were provided excellent volunteers to get us access and to make sure we hit all the floors and rooms. We started and ended in the large clinic waiting room and adjacent emergency waiting area. It was busy in both. Several of us were trained (or-retrained) on donning and doffing the protective garb used to enter some of the rooms (with permission, of course). It makes the visits into these spaces a bit harder, since the kids and parents canâ€™t see our big smiles, but the stuffed animals in our hands helps overcome that!
There were tons of smiles given and received during the visit. From my observation, it was hard to tell who was getting more out of the interaction, the pilots or the kids. Good stuff!
Many hands made for a faster-than-normal visitâ€”but that just meant there was more time for a group lunch at the great food outlets across the street. Since there was a really good mix of pilots, from several companies, the conversation was certainly stimulating.
Those attending: Zak Aman (ExpressJet), Jake Anderson (Delta), Joe Basilone (Delta), Aaron Boone (Flight Safety), Dave Biloz (Delta), Bob Brinker (Delta), Mike Gofman (Frontier), Ben Harris (ExpressJet), Bill Hutchinson (Delta), Nick Kaplan (Spirit), Howard Kwon (American), Erin Moneymaker (Delta), Don Myers (Delta), and Chip Pinyan (Delta)
Oh, thanks go to Joe, Erin, and Mike for taking the photos.
Atlanta Area Coordinator
The holidays are quite busy at the hospital the ATL PFKers normally visit, so we typically take a break during this timeâ€”and let several other organizations descend upon this group of kids. However, there were a couple of organizations that asked for some help: Called to Care is a small foster parent organization north of Atlanta. They had a Christmas party and asked for a couple of us to show our smiles. The Cobb County Foster Adoptive Parent Association had a Wrapping Partyâ€”to put the final touches on over 900 gifts.
At the first event, Tim Crites and Stephen Watts (both from Delta), showered the kids with a little holiday cheerâ€”and some stuffed animals, of course! For the second event, Hana Peavy (ExpressJet) rolled-up her sleeves and helped make the Wrapping Party a huge success. â€œWe wrapped for about nine hours! The donations covered toys-to-clothes, shoes, and even gift cards. They had enough stockings to share with the surrounding counties.â€ Wow!
Atlanta Area Coordinator
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We'll visit each floor of the hospital, spreading cheer (and toys). See separate email for details.
Get Directions: Hughes Spalding Children’s Hospital, 35 Jesse Hill Dr. SE, Atlanta, GA 30303
ATL – 15 Dec 2017 – Pre-Christmas/Holiday Visit
**//** Santa’s Helpers: L-R: AJ Pope (Delta), Janet O’Kelly (hosp.), Dan Cooper (Republic), DJ Allen (Delta), Erin Moneymaker (Delta), Ben Harris (Delta), Steve Taglia (Delta), Anthony Hawkins (ExpressJet), Sam Barton (L3), Hannah Peavy (ExpressJet), Tim Crites (Delta), Alexis Scott (hosp.), Don Myers (Delta). **//** Hannah (elf-pilot) showing Anushi (hugging Grover) how to make the fidget spinner glow. **//** Tom Crites trying not to wake Chuying during repositioning. Then… **//** …success! (Notice PFK Paddington standing guard.) **//** Santa’s Selfies **//** And to all a good night!