Flight for Life helicopter drops off Santa Claus in Silverthorne for Adopt an Angel program | SummitDaily.com

Flight for Life helicopter drops off Santa Claus in Silverthorne for Adopt an Angel program

A Flight for Life helicopter lands in the field next to the Silverthorne Pavilion Thursday, with Santa Claus aboard.
Bill Linfield / Special to the Daily |

A Flight for Life helicopter stood in for a team of reindeer to provide Santa Claus a dramatic entrance at the Silverthorne Pavilion on Thursday. Santa, portrayed by a jolly David Siderfin, a Silverthorne police officer, arrived on the snowy field outside the pavilion at 10 a.m., stepping out of the helicopter with arms full of large red sacks filled with toys.

There were 10 in all, each designated for a specific child, through the Adopt an Angel program.

Started 20 years ago with the help of Silverthorne police chief Mark Hanschmidt, Adopt an Angel gathers gift donations throughout the holiday season for local children and families in need. The gifts are all brought on one day to the Silverthone Pavilion, where parents can come and pick out toys for their children, which are then giftwrapped by volunteers.

Last week, Siderfin graduated from the Colorado Mountain College police academy in Glenwood Springs. Among those in his class was a woman named Stephanie Straw. Straw, her husband and her father run the Don Kriz Youth Farm on their 31-acre ranch in Rifle, where they provide a home for foster children. When Siderfin told Hanschmidt about the family, the chief came up with a plan to make this Christmas even more special for the 10 children.

“We got the idea — we’re going to have extra toys, let’s bag up toys for all the kids,” Hanschmidt said. The next question became, “How do we get it there?”

That’s where Colorado State Patrol stepped in, with Capt. Richard Duran offering to help transport the gifts from Silverthorne to Rifle. The flourish with the Flight for Life helicopter came as part of the Adopt an Angel partnership, which stretches across county police, sheriff and fire departments and the ambulance service.

“It gets back to the support from the county,” Hanschmidt said.

While Santa, Silverthorne police officers and Colorado state troopers gathered the sacks full of toys into the patrol vehicle for the final leg of the journey, driven by Cpl. Coby Smart, parents at the pavilion browsed through mountains of toys and volunteers showed off their skills with scissors, tape, wrapping paper and bows.

“Some little boy is going to be very happy,” said volunteer Sheila Flanagan as she gathered wrapping paper for a toy fire engine.

In Spanish, she asked the mother waiting for the present how old her son was.

“Ocho (eight),” the woman replied with a smile.

Hanschmidt said they had more than 200 volunteers, who took shifts in registration, gift choosing and wrapping throughout the day.

Some were there for the first time, while others, like Sharon Butler and Audrey Wilson, are recurring volunteers. This was Butler’s and Wilson’s ninth year.

“It’s a great feeling, knowing that we’ve been able to help so many people in our community,” Hanschmidt told the Summit Daily earlier in the week.

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