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Posted On: 2014-12-05
Jacki Ochoa, 12 News | azcentral.com
6:29 p.m. MST December 5, 2014
A group of underprivileged children were flown from Sky Harbor International Airport to "the North Pole" Friday morning, where there were presents, games, food and, of course, Santa.
It was the annual United Fantasy Flight, which took about 120 students from Children First Academy and Concordia Charter School to a winter wonderland.
"Watching the kids' faces when they come on and then take off is incredible," said United Airlines flight attendant Bunny Fleming, who's been working the Fantasy Flight since 1995. "They get so excited. It almost brings me to tears to watch them."
The flight is called "SANTA 1." The children took a 30-minute plane ride, arriving at a gate decorated to look like Santa's workshop at the North Pole.
Each child received a gift bag with toys, blankets, socks, gloves and toiletries.
The nonprofit United Airlines Fantasy Flight Association takes donations and holds fundraising events to pay for the festive day and raise money to benefit the children throughout the year.
"We've been doing this 19 years," said Marilyn Fairley with the United Airlines Fantasy Flight Association. "Over the past, we have generated $36,000 for underprivileged children, and last year alone we raised $12,900 and we give 80 percent back to the school for computers, Kindle Fires, to help with their education process as well."
Among the many volunteers who helped out were students from ASU, local church members, representative from various local clubs, and of course current and retired United employees.
"The children are so great," said volunteer Midge Kelly. "I just feel like one of them when I come back. I want to play with them, do a lot of different things with them and see their eyes light up."
The festivities included breakfast, but "they can't eat. They are too excited," said Kelly.
If you'd like to learn more about the United Fantasy Flight, visit unitedfantasyflight.com.