...And Charity Efforts...

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Not all erstwhile Santas descend from the heavens and dress in red. For 20 years, Pilots For Kids, a group founded by airline pilots, has been visiting hospitalized children, bringing them toys and other items to cheer them up while they're ill. The pilots and cabin crew taking part in the visits wear full uniform, to the delight of the kids. "The delight in the children's eyes cannot be explained in words ..." reads the group's Web site. The efforts come into sharp focus at Christmas for Memphis-area FedEx pilots, who touched down recently at Hope House, delivering good and gifts to the day care center for children affected by HIV/AIDS. There's no shortage of grassroots efforts by pilots to help out their neighbors, either. Every year, the 75 members of the Vernon (British Columbia) Flying Club hold a silent auction to raise money for the local food bank and in Graniteville, S.C., pilots from throughout the region flock to Gerald Ballard's hangar to donate gifts for the U.S. Marines' Toys For Tots program. Ballard throws a big dinner for the pilots and they enjoy an afternoon of camaraderie. More than 100 pilots and their families attended the Dec. 13 bash.