Fun Fly to benefit Toys for Tots

Published 9:54 pm Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Hampton Roads Radio Control Club will host its 10th annual fun fly this weekend. The event will benefit Toys for Tots.

This Saturday, beginning at 8 a.m., the event will take place at the club’s flying field at Lone Star Lakes Park. At its peak, the event has attracted more than 500 children and parents, according to Mills Staylor, a member of the club’s board of directors. However, attendance has fluctuated based on weather conditions.

Since its inception, the event has raised more than $15,000 and collected thousands of toys, according to Staylor.

Email newsletter signup

“We are a community-oriented organization,” said Chris Weeks, club vice-president.

This year, 30 to 50 club members and enthusiasts will fly their radio-controlled airplanes, which typically come in all colors, shapes and sizes. Inexperienced fliers wanting to use the planes will be able to do so with a “buddy box,” which allows experienced fliers to maintain emergency control over the planes.

There is a $10 entry fee for pilots. However, they may substitute a toy donation for payment. Families in attendance are also encouraged to donate toys.

“Give ‘til your heart feels good,” Weeks said.

At 8 a.m., a local Starbucks, which is also one of the event’s community sponsors, will provide free coffee for attendees. A local UPS Store serves as the other community sponsor.

“We are appreciative of so many sponsorships,” Weeks said.

At around 11 a.m., a Nightingale helicopter is expected to fly in. An hour later, there will be a candy drop, which is a popular event among the children. Skydive Suffolk parachuters are expected around this time as well.

In the afternoon, awards will be presented to the aircraft pilots. Additionally, a donation check will be given to Toys for Tots.

This event works in part with the Suffolk News-Herald’s Cheer Fund, which is a fundraising effort for Toys For Tots and the Salvation Army to make sure every child in Suffolk can have a toy for Christmas.

The fund, beginning during The Great Depression, originally raised money for clothes and food for needy families. Eventually, it transitioned to buying new toys for children. Over the years, the program has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Last year, the fun fly brought in a few thousand dollars and five to six boxes of toys, according to Weeks. In early December, the Salvation Army donates the toys to children in need.

“Hopefully, we can do better this Saturday,” Staylor said.

Donations for the Cheer Fund are accepted year-round. To give, write a check payable to the Cheer Fund and mail it to P.O. Box 1220, Suffolk, VA 23439, or stop by our office at 130 S. Saratoga St. Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.