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BIRMINGHAM – The third annual Operation Toy Drop will take place Friday, Dec. 5 as aviation units from law enforcement agencies across Alabama gather in Birmingham to help Santa deliver hundreds of toys by helicopter to Children’s of Alabama, the state’s only freestanding pediatric hospital.
Operation Toy Drop begins that morning as officers and helicopter crews from law enforcement agencies across the state meet Santa Claus at Bessemer Airport (900 Mitchell Field Rd., Bessemer 35022) to load up the choppers with goodies and enjoy lunch together before the flights to Children’s start taking off around 1:15 p.m. The first flight will transport Santa to the rooftop helipad of Children’s McWane Building (1600 7th Ave. S., Birmingham, 35233.) Remaining flights will follow about every four minutes until all toys have been delivered. In case of inclement weather, the flights will be rescheduled for Friday, Dec. 12.
Additional goodies will be delivered by ground via Houston County’s large Homeland Security trailer.
At the hospital, Santa and his elves will help unload the bags of toys which will be donated to Children’s Sugar Plum Shop, a special in-hospital toy store built and operated by staff, corporate partners and volunteers who invite parents of currently hospitalized patients to “shop” free of charge for gifts for the patient child and siblings. The Sugar Plum Shop gives those parents the opportunity to provide all the magic of the holidays for their kids. Each year, more than 500 children receive gifts from the Sugar Plum Shop. More information about toy donations is available at http://foundation.childrensal.org.
During Operation Toy Drop, the helicopters will approach Children’s from one side of the building and depart from the opposite side, giving all patients and families the opportunity to witness the flights regardless of where their rooms are located.
“There is never a time that’s easy to be in the hospital, but the holidays can be especially difficult for our patients and their families,” Emily Bridges, Children’s of Alabama Community Development Coordinator, said. “The participating law enforcement agencies have not only organized their communities in support of Children’s, but have also created a special moment for our patients. They’ve made things brighter this holiday season, and for that Children’s is very grateful.”
Participating law enforcement agencies include sheriff’s departments in Barbour, Coffee, Covington, Dale, Geneva, Henry, Houston and Pike counties, the Alabama State Troopers, Hoover Police Department, Tuscaloosa Police Department and others. Hoover Police are spearheading the event this year.
Since 1911, Children’s of Alabama has provided specialized medical care for ill and injured children, offering inpatient and outpatient services throughout central Alabama. Last year, families made more than 670,000 outpatient visits and experienced nearly 14,000 inpatient days at Children’s, coming from every county in Alabama and from 45 other states and four foreign countries. With more than 2 million square feet, Children’s is the third largest pediatric medical facility in the U.S. and is ranked among the top children’s hospital programs in the country by US News & World Report. More information is available at www.childrensal.org.