Monday, December 10, 2012

All Aboard...the SnowBall Express

Kids having cotton ball "snowball" fights on an airplane.
Fantastic, intricate balloon hats.
A holiday party in an airport terminal.
Volunteers across the country organizing an event to bring together families who have lost military family members since 9/11. 
Chartered planes, operated by employees volunteering their time, hopping from city to city to collect these families for a long weekend of fun and friendship.
Teary-eyed yet? Us too.

We at Fabri-Quilt were honored to be a part of the 7th annual SnowBall Express last week at Kansas City International Airport.

What is the SnowBall Express, you ask? 

It's an annual event that brings together children of fallen military service members for a weekend of fun in Dallas. You can learn more about it here.
American Airlines flies families from all over the country to Dallas on special charter flights, and the kids spend the weekend staying at hotels (who donate rooms), and partaking in special events and activities. SnowBall Express honors the fallen military members and give the kids the opportunity to bond with new friends facing a similar situation.

The American Airlines crew in Kansas City organizes cheery send-off for area kids--this year 22 families in all. The group brings in Santa, an amazing balloon animal company called Up, Up and Away, an Army brass band playing carols, and homemade cookies.
Setting the mood with a cozy fireplace, complete with Santa's legs!

Have you ever seen such cool balloon hats? 
Getting ready to board the plane

  We became involved through donating fabric--both the dark blue "sky" and white "snow" fabric used on the walls to create the snowy scenes, and other holiday-themed fabrics for fundraising projects. 

The brass band belts out carols, helping to set the mood.
 Rhonda, one of the American employees in Kansas City, works with her mother each year to create small quilted projects from our fabric. Last year it was aprons and hotpads; this year, stockings. She sells these items and uses the proceeds to help put on the SnowBall event. This year stockings hung for decoration were filled with small baggies of cotton balls.

Why cotton balls? The tradition is that each time the plane stops (this particular plane went from Detroit to Chicago to St. Louis to Kansas City, picking up families, before heading on to Dallas for the weekend's activities), kids on board throw cotton balls at the newcomers. With their own baggies full of cotton, the Kansas City folks were ready to dish it out!
Yep, those are kids in the overhead compartments! (Only while the plane is on the ground, of course!)

Hugs from Santa as the kids board the plane.

 KBMC, one of our local news stations, came to the event as well. You can watch the video clip here.

We can't wait for next year's event! It is such a heart-warming way to kick off the holiday season.

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