Waterford air hangar full of gifts for foster kids furthers one man's legacy

The Pentastar Aviation Hangar in Waterford Township is full of toys, clothing and bikes among other holiday gifts for Operation Good Cheer.

"This all started with one Ford employee," said Todd Brooks, Ford Motor Company. "His name was Constantine Kortidis. He basically started adopting families and using his own personal plane to deliver gifts around the state."

Fifty-two years later, that act of kindness has grown into Operation Good Cheer to help foster kids all across the state of Michigan.

"We have over 6,600 kids this year and they are all we’re hoping to be happy on Christmas morning," said Karen Storlie, Operation Good Cheer.

It all starts as a wish list of six items from the heart of a foster child in need.

"The donors are required to purchase three of them but most donors supply all six and then some," Storlie said.

On Friday those wrapped presents arrived to a hangar at Pentastar Aviation where volunteers from Ford, Pentastar and many other companies were unloading - and sorting.

Todd Brooks

Todd Brooks

Come Saturday and weather permitting, more than 200 volunteer pilots like Brooks, will use their planes to jet off all across the state of Michigan and deliver the items and bring cheer to foster children.

"You feel like Santa," Brooks said. "It really affects you to see that and bring joy to kids like that who have very unfortunate circumstances. So it’s very emotional."

In order to make Operation Good Cheer possible, space is needed that can hold more than 20,000 wrapped items.

"We provide the hangar," said Greg Schmidt, Pentastar Aviation. "The great thing is almost 7,000 children will receive Christmas presents because of this activity and we’re proud to open up our space."

And Santa, who knows a thing or two about making massive deliveries, says he’s glad to receive some help this holiday season.

"I’ve got all sorts of issues with getting stuff done with this international delivery service I do on December 24th and these people are helping me immensely," said Keith "SantaFinn" Makela, Santa Claus.

As volunteers continue their work they hope you will see what working together can achieve.

"This really shows the true power of teamwork," Brooks said. "And when people unite around a common cause, everything is achievable."