Seeing the joy on children’s faces is one of the greatest rewards of the holiday season. For the past two years, employees from the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority (JMAA) at Hawkins Field have treated the elementary children from Canopy Children’s Solutions’ CARES School Jackson to a wonderful Christmas treat.

“The JMAA family is truly humbled to be able to share holiday joy with such a great organization in our community,” said Sam Carver, Airport Manager for Hawkins Field. “We’re creating a unique experience for these children at Hawkins Field that we hope will last a lifetime.”

Christmas with pizza

The kids were greeted at Hawkins Field by a band of JMAA elves and friends of the airport. They were escorted alongside several small jets that the children admired as they entered the hangar for pizza and snacks. As the children sat, JMAA employees gathered to help them clean their hands, open drinks and enjoy a time of fellowship.

“It is overwhelming to see these kid’s faces light up,” said Bryan Helaire, JMAA Director of Information Technology. “It touches my heart and makes me grateful for [Canopy] and what you all do for these kids.”

As the kids finished lunch, their attention turned to the back of the room. The hangar was decorated with a beautiful holiday display complete with a seat for Santa, elves, reindeer, Christmas trees and fluffy white snow. Surrounding the figures were dozens of festively-wrapped gifts with the children’s names prominently displayed. As anticipation heightened, children performed Christmas songs as a ‘thank you’ to JMAA for their hospitality.

Watching for Santa

Soon after, Kimberly Farmer, the head elf and Administrative Assistant to JMAA’s Chief Operating Officer, announced a special visitor would be arriving soon. The children gathered along the open hangar door and peered into the distance. The excitement mounted as a white helicopter came into view carrying jolly ole Saint Nick. The children squealed and clapped as Santa exited the helicopter, then broke into song welcoming him with Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Santa greeted the children waving and smiling.

Santa Arrives in Helicopter

Each child took time to visit with Santa and were given gifts provided by the JMAA staff. As Christmas wrapping piled into heaps across the hangar, children squealed in delight, digging into oversized gift bags and tearing back wrapping paper. The room filled with the sounds of children laughing and playing. Two boys showed off their dribbling skills with new basketballs. A group of children enlisted the help of the aviation mechanics to assemble remote control cars. Girls giggled and took turns admiring their new treasures. One boy received a Gibson guitar that he strummed  with the look of pure joy on his face. The smiles of JMAA staff hinted that this experience meant a lot to them as well.

Christmas Guitar

“This is so special,” said Carl Ross, JMAA Maintenance Supervisor. “Just a little giving back means so much to these kids. Getting to be part of this is probably as meaningful to me as it is to them.”

Before leaving, JMAA staff presented each child with a backpack packed with a Christmas book and plush stuffed animal. As the children loaded the bus, they waved to staff and thanked them through the open door wishing them all “Merry Christmas!”

Thanks to the generosity of JMAA, this Christmas will be one these children will not forget. Canopy Children’s Solutions is immensely grateful to all the JMAA employees at Hawkins Field for blessing our children with a truly magical Christmas experience.

To see more photos from this magical Christmas experience, visit the JMAA Santa Drop 2017 album on Canopy’s Facebook page.