More than 100 children boarded a Delta 767 at Los Angeles International Airport Terminal Five and headed toward the North Pole. Two hours later, they arrived to their destination, an airplane hangar transformed into a winter wonderland.
Even though the plane never lifted off -- it taxied down the runway until they made it to the North Pole -- the kids happily peeked out the windows of the plane as they reached the holiday decorated airplane hangar, complete with elves and Santa Claus waiting for their arrival.
Once the airplane door opened, the kids, who came from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the Center for Advanced Learning (a public charter elementary school), were greeted by former Kings players Daryl Evans, Jim Fox and Marty McSorley, club mascot Bailey, Kings Ice Crew, Kings Chariot Staff, Lakers Girls and Lakers alum A.C. Green.
“The kids were ecstatic and they were full of anticipation. They were looking out the window and when the door opened up and the elves were all standing outside and everybody was clapping, the kids were just so happy to be here,” said Delta Captain Bill Kauffman, who helped taxi the plane down the runway on December 4.
Kauffman, who participated in the event last year too, was also in the bus that picked up the two groups of kids and brought them to LAX.
“It’s such a great time,” he said. “Some of the kids have never even been to the airport.”
This year marked the second annual Holiday in the Hangar at LAX and Tricia A. Rumola, Delta Air Lines Manager of Community Affairs, says plans to have the event next year are already in the works.
“I see this continuing to be an annual event,” Rumola said. “We’re constantly thinking of ways to improve upon and have more kids involved.
“We really love events like this because it gets our employees involved and also we’re working with the local community where our employees live, where our customers live and where we serve,” continued Rumola.
The event had different stations, including a mini basketball court where Green played ball with the kids and even helped many of them dunk the ball into the net.
Said Fox: “The kids get a chance to have a smile on their face around Christmas time, and maybe it’s a smile they wouldn’t have had without Delta and all the partners that come together that run the event.”
There was also a station with hockey activities, where kids were able to learn how use a hockey stick to pass and shoot a ball with Evans, Fox and McSorley to teach them. Kings Chariot Staff and Ice Crew were on hand to also play interactive games with the kids and give away prizes.
“It’s important to be cognizant and to help out,” McSorley said. “I do believe everybody does have a responsibility to help out when you have an opportunity to give back.”
The kids from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, which is part of the Children’s Miracle Network of Hospitals, ranged in age from five to eight years old. Parents and siblings of the patients were invited to the event as well.
“Delta has been a long standing sponsor of Children’s Miracle Network,” Rumola said. “We also work locally with the hospitals that are part of that organization and Children’s Hospital of LA is one of those hospitals that we support on the local level.”
This year Delta also chose the charter school through their relationship with the Lakers, who had previously partnered with them in the past. The kids, ranging from first to third grade, were chosen by the school.
“It gives an opportunity for kids that maybe never held a hockey stick and gives them a chance,” Evans said. “These individuals are special. It’s amazing what we can learn from how positive they look at things.
“Sometimes we look at what we don’t have and we look at these individuals and they’re so grateful for what they do have, I think that hits home,” Evans said.