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By Paul Brucker
From December 5, 2014, through December 13, 2014, Alliant employees from around the country pitched in to help United Airlines fly hundreds of kids to the “North Pole” on United’s Fantasy Flights.
Since 1993, United’s Fantasy Flights have helped make the winter holidays brighter for youngsters who face serious illnesses or live in disadvantaged communities. For many kids, it was their first time flying.
This year the tradition continued at 12 airports, as United Airline employees and others volunteered their time and creativity to provide the kids a true fantasy. In most locations, the young voyagers traveled through a festively decorated airport terminal, boarded a plane, took a flight and landed at another terminal in the same airport decorated to appear like the North Pole. Here they were greeted by Santa Claus and given gifts.
Alliant employees participated at airports in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, Phoenix and Washington, DC. Plus, the Alliant Credit Union Foundation donated $16,500 to help make the experience delightful for the children and their families. Seattle did not have a fantasy flight this year, but in the spirit of holiday giving, the Alliant Foundation donated an additional $1,500 to YouthCare in Seattle, a shelter for homeless youth.
Santa’s elves from Alliant’s Houston Branch. Member Benefits Specialists Nelly Fernandez (left) and Alicia Bonilla help provide holiday cheer at the United Fantasy Flight at Houston George Bush International Airport.
“My team and I put up decorations and collages, including some fun artwork made by Chicago’s Prescott Magnet,” says Nicholas Goldie, benefits specialist at Alliant’s O’Hare International Airport branch. “We all worked together to come up with fascinating ideas that would best capture the holiday spirit.”
“This was my first time volunteering, and the experience was incredibly moving for me,” says Nauma Salahuddin, member benefits specialist at Alliant’s San Mateo, CA, branch. “As we walked with the kids to the plane, their faces would completely light up.”
“It was refreshing to help give these kids an exciting day and provide them with a break from their everyday battles,” adds Jessika Rivera, another member benefits specialist at Alliant’s San Mateo branch.