From left, Waheeda Brandon, Frank Martines and Eric Gubka, employees of Member Driven Technologies in Farmington Hills, volunteer to tag, prepare and pack gifts during Operation Good Cheer. The volunteer effort Dec. 1 brought people together at Oakland County International Airport to gather donated gifts and prepare them for delivery to foster children around Michigan.

From left, Waheeda Brandon, Frank Martines and Eric Gubka, employees of Member Driven Technologies in Farmington Hills, volunteer to tag, prepare and pack gifts during Operation Good Cheer. The volunteer effort Dec. 1 brought people together at Oakland County International Airport to gather donated gifts and prepare them for delivery to foster children around Michigan.

Photo by Maddie Forshee


Operation Good Cheer donates gifts to foster kids in Michigan

By: Maddie Forshee | C&G Newspapers | Published December 8, 2017

 Operation Good Cheer is organized by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and Child and Family Services of Michigan.

Operation Good Cheer is organized by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and Child and Family Services of Michigan.

Photo by Maddie Forshee

WATERFORD — Foster children around the state are getting their Christmas wishes this holiday season, thanks to Operation Good Cheer. 

Operation Good Cheer is a 46-year-old program organized by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and Child and Family Services of Michigan. 

Foster children throughout the state are invited to participate in the program and make a wish list of gifts, to be fulfilled by donors throughout Michigan. Donors can be individuals or businesses who donate goods to the organizations.

“A long time ago, a group of individuals wanted to make a difference in their community,” said David VanderVeen, Oakland County director of central services. “They got together and started distributing gifts to needy children.”

Nearly 7,000 foster children throughout Michigan will receive their Christmas wish this year. Michigan currently has about 13,000 kids in foster care. 

“It’s a really tremendous number of kids,” said Bob Wheaton, public information officer for the MDHHS. “We really appreciate the time and effort it takes to make sure these kids have a Christmas.” 

Donors buy and wrap the gifts, which were taken from 22 pickup locations and delivered to Oakland County International Airport Dec. 1 to be distributed by planes and trucks.

Hundreds of volunteers visited the airport to gather, sort and load over 19,000 gifts at the Pentastar Aviation hangar. 

On Dec. 2, 275 airplanes departed from OCIA and flew across Michigan into 26 different airports. VanderVeen said that planes were traveling all over the lower and upper peninsulas to deliver gifts. 

Pilots and truck drivers donate their time to deliver the gifts.

“The important thing is they’re doing it so these kids can have a Christmas,” said VanderVeen. “We’re in a unique position to deliver these presents around the state of Michigan.” 

Since foster kids have gone through so much already, Wheaton said it’s important to involve them in traditions so they don’t feel left out. 

“Children in foster care really need as much stability as we can provide for them,” said Wheaton. “We’re making it so they’re better able to celebrate the holidays. We want to try to make life as normal as we can for them and let them celebrate the season.” 

For more information on Operation Good Cheer, visit www.cfsm.org.