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Volunteer Pilots, Boy Scouts Deliver Tons of Supplies to Title 1 School

MANTI, Utah – Twenty planes touched down at the Manti-Ephraim Airport to deliver 6,000 lbs. of school supplies for elementary students as part of Angel Flight’s annual Santa Flight.

Each year, the charity group selects a Title 1 school to receive the donation and Tuesday’s donation went to students at Ephraim Elementary School.

Several boys working on their Eagle Scout awards gathered the donations in their local communities. Thirteen-year-old Kaiden Pitcher, of Eagle Mountain, was one of those scouts.

“It’s kind of touching,” Pitcher said. “Knowing that I’ve helped so many people, through the community around me.”

Each year, dozens of volunteer pilots help with the effort too.

“Kids make all the difference, don’t you think?” said volunteer pilot Robert Holt. “It is just so much fun to give back to the community, especially to see the children and their excitement.”

Pilots Jay Wood and Richard Holt helped with Tuesday’s Santa Flight.

Santa, Mrs. Claus and some elves also made the trip to visit the hundreds of kids from Ephraim Elementary. The large group stood, waiting and singing Christmas carols while waiting for them to arrive.

“For me, it starts off the Christmas holiday and Christmas spirit for me,” said volunteer pilot Jay Wood. “It just brings my heart warm to see all these kids, and how grateful they are to have all these gifts.”

Members of the Utah National Guard were on hand to load up and haul off the tons of supplies back to the school. Ephraim Elementary Principal Gannon Jones was also handed a check for nearly $6,000 to buy more supplies for the school.

Members of the Utah National Guard were on hand to load up and haul off the tons of supplies back to the school.

“It means a huge deal to us, and the amount of supplies is unreal,” Jones said. “We made sure the students understood how many people have donated so much time and money and just the effort they put in, and they’re not asking for anything in return.”

Volunteer pilots like Holt and Wood continue to serve with Angel Flight year-round. At times, they help veterans get to Honor Flight events, but primarily help cancer patients in more remote areas get to important treatments at Huntsman Cancer Center and Primary Children’s Hospital.

“It gives you a sense of accomplishment and a sense of giving back when you’re able to help somebody else that really needs the help,” Wood said.

Hundreds of kids from Ephraim Elementary waited in an airport hangar for the Santa Flight to arrive.

A few years into volunteering with Angel Flight, Wood was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer that affects the blood and is somewhat similar to leukemia.

“I was down for a good year. I didn’t fly,” Wood said. “I thought my flying was over, and actually coming back to fly Angel Flights was a big drive for me to get well, and be able to do it again.”

Wood said though he is much better now, his cancer is terminal. He said ongoing treatments keep him going.

“So far, it’s buying me time and letting me do the things that I want to do,” Wood said. “Every possibility I have, I take on a flight.”

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