"Fat Albert" doesn't look anything like the traditional Santa's sleigh from the storybooks: It's yellow and blue instead of red and green; it's powered by four engines instead of eight (nine?) reindeer; and, it's steered by a crew of uniformed volunteers instead of a jolly fat man dressed in red from head to toe.
But it's serving the same purpose -- bringing Christmas to needy children in New Orleans who would have had an otherwise bleak holiday were it not for the generosity of the Blue Angels.
Best known for its air aerobatics and mach speeds, the Blue Angels is the United States Navy Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron. Its mission this holiday season, however, is quite different: Volunteers from the team are bringing thousands of toys (donated by Lockheed Martin employees and Toys "R" Us) to hard-hit families in New Orleans.
One such family is headed by Kenneth Burrell, a carpenter who lost his home to Hurricane Katrina. With only $10 in his banking account, he wondered how he was going to pay for Christmas for his two daughters and three grandkids -- that is until the Blue Angels arrived. When they handed him a bag filled with toys for his family, he was overcome with emotion and joy:
Good day for me today ... Grandkids are gonna love this. I couldn't afford to go out there and get them anything. This is going to be a big relief off my shoulders.
These volunteers are angels, indeed. And an inspiration to those of us who have more than enough as this holiday season rolls around. Here's hoping the Blue Angel Toys for Tots Sleigh Ride becomes a yearly tradition.
Image via Jeff Hunter/Flickr