By Jeff Todd
GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4) – A Colorado nonprofit is hoping donors can help service members make it home for the holidays.
The Greeley-based organization Helping Heroes Fly started two years ago and has already helped 163 active duty military members get to special occasions, but as word of their generosity has grown, their budget has shrunk.
“Our immediate goal right now would be to be able to reopen applications. We just this week had to close them because we got 31 requests in one day and that pretty much depleted the funds,” Pam Matt, who helped start Helping Heroes Fly, said.
“There’s just so many touching stories. Our very first ticket was so that a soldier could meet his brand new baby before he got deployed for a year, he’d never seen her,” said Terri Keeney who worked with Pam to set up the organization.
Keeney and Matt thought they’d help about a dozen people get home. In the first year they helped 65, and this year they reached 98.
“Christmas is over a month away and we’d love to be able to reopen,” Matt said.
Many of the tickets have been used to reunite families for either the holidays or other special occasions.
Sandy Elbell has two sons who have used the service.
“They were definitely life-changing. To have my oldest son be able to meet his son was, you just can’t describe that,” Elbell said.
The idea behind Helping Heroes Fly started to help young enlisted men and women who aren’t making enough to buy a plane ticket during leave from their base.
“I do feel like these ladies are angels and definitely heaven sent,” Elbell said. “They just do so much with so little.”
Helping Heroes Fly has a list of ways you can help donate here.
Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.