Thousands of foster children across the Michigan, including those in Livingston County, will find gifts under the Christmas tree thanks to local social service agencies and a state wide nonprofit organization.

Operation Good Cheer began in 1971 by delivering gifts to 66 kids in foster care. Now, 48 years later, more than 20,000 presents will be distributed to nearly 7,100 Michigan children. The effort begins each spring, with local social service agencies enrolling children. Locally, that’s handled by Livingston County Catholic Charities. The kids compile a wish list of 6 gifts they’d like, with those lists then being delivered to donor groups in the fall, who buy at least 3 of them.

31 trucking companies donated their time to transport gifts to the Oakland County International Airport from pick-up locations. Then this Friday and Saturday, they will be sorted and sent out across the state. A collaboration of pilots will make delivery flights throughout the day Saturday to 29 airports, including the Livingston County Spencer J. Hardy Airport in Howell Township.

Operation Good Cheer is a program of Child and Family Services of Michigan. This year, more than 250 separate donor groups and individuals are participating as gift sponsors. Donors include individuals, families, employer groups, public schools and universities, and community service organizations. (JK)