The second Saturday in November is a special day for the Navajo Reservation in Gallup, New Mexico. For most of Arizona’s residents, it is just another fall Saturday, but for them, it is their Christmas Day.
Most people are not aware that many of the Navajo in Gallup live in conditions that rival a Third World country. Their homes do not have running water or electricity. They struggle daily to obtain essential items such as food, toothbrushes, toothpaste, lotion, soap, shampoo, clothing and blankets.
The reservation is approximately 200 nautical miles from Falcon Field Airport, and it takes about an hour-and-half to fly there. In an effort to help tribal members the Navajo Christmas Airlift was formed in 1984. Since its conception, about 40 pilots with charitable hearts have been selflessly donating roughly 10,000 pounds of clothing, non-perishable food, and toys to the Thoreau Navajo Outreach annually. Last year pilots involved came from Deer Valley, Glendale, Goodyear, Falcon Field, Camp Verde, and Sierra Vista airports. Every pilot personally collects donations from friends, family members, businesses, schools, and churches to fill their airplanes to capacity to take to the families in need.
“Many of us have been a part of the program for about 15 to 20 years" participating pilot Dave Eneboe said. "We all really look forward to it each year. It is how many of us kick off our holiday season. It is something that really makes you feel good about yourself, and it is really very rewarding."
Eneboe has been a part of the Navajo Christmas Airlift for several years and has owned an airplane at Falcon Field Airport since 2000."It is inspiring to do something that you know is going to put a smile on someone else’s face. At Christmas time it is kind of an important deal,” he said.
If you would like to join or donate to the airlift or for more more information, contact Greg McColley at 602-978-1663 or GMPSN930@cox.net.