The Silverliners of Key West can’t hold their annual holiday event at the Key West airport this holiday season, but that hasn’t stopped the group of retired Easten Airlines flight attendants from continuing their mission of helping Key West kids.

The group, which typically hosts a Fantasy Flight to the North Pole every December for several hundred youngsters, recently bought and donated iPads for a special-needs classroom at Gerald Adams Elementary School and for two local children who recently were placed in a Key West foster home.

“Since we can’t do the Fantasy Flight this year at the airport due to the pandemic, we were looking for other ways to continue helping kids in our community,” Silverliner Crissy Gallagher said. 

Celina Perez, a special-needs teacher at Gerald Adams Elementary, contacted the group when she needed an iPad for a student, and the Silverliners helped without hesitation.

“We don’t feel it’s appropriate during this time to ask others for donations, but we still had some funds left to continue our mission of helping local kids,” Joyce Benavides added.

From left, Gerald Adams Elementary assistant principal Leslie Holmes; special-needs teacher Celina Perez and ESE coordinator Kellie Niles, along with principal Kyle Sheer, far right, thank Silverliners Crissy Gallagher, Joyce Benavides and Bindy Blatt for donating an iPad for a special-needs student. CONTRIBUTED

The group was able to buy and donate two additional iPads for siblings who recently entered foster care and are facing several obstacles.

Deborah Bailey, who owns Goldman’s Bagel Deli with her husband, Mark, mentors and tutors children in foster care several times a week. Throughout the pandemic, when schools were closed and the children’s parents weren’t available, Bailey brought the foster kids into the closed restaurant to help with schoolwork and provide a short escape from their troubled lives.

“The Silverliners’ generosity is amazing and so appreciated,” Bailey said. “They immediately stepped up and donated two iPads, gift cards and some experiences at local museums and other attractions. These kids already have enough things working against them, so anything I can do to help give them a positive experience and time is so worth it.”

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