Some local pilots aim to beat the Christmas rush for children still suffering from the earthquake that devastated Haiti nearly two years ago.
Organizer Rick Sante, with Airlift Flyers Aviation, is making sure the toys arrive for more than 600 children in Port-au-Prince and areas around the Haitian capital.
The children are "living in orphanages or sleeping in huts and tents," he said. "Probably these kids have never seen a Christmas present put in their hands on Christmas Day."
The toys are stuffed animals and soccer balls – items that do not need batteries or electricity.
The goodies came from a charity in New York called Happy Heart Funds. Crews pulled the 506 pounds of boxed toys off a truck Wednesday into a warehouse, and they are preparing to load them onto a 767 for a free flight on Amerijet, the shipping company based in Fort Lauderdale. The plane is set to take off from Miami International Airport Thursday.
Sante says the one possible obstacle that might stall the gifts could be customs in Haiti, where a large earthquake struck in January 2010. He is hopeful Haitian officials will allow the gifts in by Friday at the latest.
Then humanitarian groups would be able to distribute the presents in time for Christmas.
We're sharing "our joy to the world," Sante said.
His network of “compassionate aviators” works with nonprofit groups to help the destitute in the Caribbean and Latin America.
Sante says his flyers could use your help in making arrangements for shipping donations overseas. To find out how, go to www.alfa.aero.
And to learn more about Happy Heart Funds, visit www.happyheartfunds.org.