Sweet Gifts from the Sky

I’ve been traveling for the past week, so I’ve been a little quiet around the blogging universe. But yesterday, I went to meet my publishers face-to-face! It was delightful, and I loved talking to the people who are doing amazing things for my book. I am so glad to be working with a team of such wonderful people.

AND there was an unexpected surprise sitting in the lobby when we walked in: Colonel Gail Halvorsen.

The Candy Bomber.

Col. Halvorsen was a WWII pilot who dropped rations during the Berlin Airlift. Following one of his missions, Halvorsen started talking to a crowd of hungry children who were watching the enormous airplanes through the fence at the Tempelhof Airport. When the children asked if he had any candy to give them, he had only two sticks of gum; but he promised to drop more for them next time he flew over the airport.

Halvorsen collected candy rations from several of his buddies and put together three packages of candy for his next mission. As he approached Tempelhof, he wiggled his wings to let the children know it was him, and then his flight engineer threw the three packages out the flare chute with handkerchief parachutes. As he taxied past the children, they waved the handkerchiefs at him in enthusiastic thanks for the candy.

Word spread, and other pilots started donating candy and handkerchiefs for Halvorsen to drop throughout Berlin. Letters addressed to “Uncle Wiggly Wings” streamed through the post office, pleading for candy to be dropped in their area. Before long, thousands of pounds of candy were coming into Germany from the United States, and Halvorsen had to enlist other pilots to spread packages of sweet love to the children of that war-torn country. A few disappointed children wrote to say that they hadn’t been able to reach the packages before the others had cleaned them out, and Halvorsen mailed them personal packages filled with treats.

The airlift was already providing the necessities of survival. But Colonel Halvorsen saw a need beyond that of just hunger. He saw children who desperately needed some semblance of childhood pleasures. He saw something he could do that would bring a few smiles to a people whose lives had been torn down from the inside.

My friends, charity is not just giving money. Charity is filling a need that not everyone can see. Charity is looking for ways to make people smile. Charity is showing people their worth. Charity is love.

And Colonel Halvorsen had charity.