A $90,000 donation from Hy-Vee Foods to Honor Flight of the Quad-Cities arrived as time is critical for World War II veterans, hub director Bob Morrison said.
Morrison gladly accepted the largest one-time donation from the grocery stores in the Iowa and Illinois Quad-Cities and Clinton that will pay for the Nov. 8 flight. That flight and one scheduled for the next day will bring to eight the number of Honor Flights from the Quad-Cities this year.
“We’ve sent 900 veterans from this area to see their memorial, but we still have 500 on a waiting list,” Morrison said. “You are providing an opportunity for someone who wouldn’t be able to wait until next year.”
Morrison said the Honor Flight of the Quad-Cities board originally planned for one or two flights each year but realized the urgent need for flights because of the elderly veterans. He noted that 12 veterans scheduled to go on the November flight have died since it was booked.
For an upcoming flight in September, eight veterans will need oxygen treatments, one is being fed intravenously and another is terminally ill.
Along with the Nov. 8-9 Honor Flights, two are scheduled for Sept. 7-8. Morrison wouldn’t comment Friday on whether any other corporate sponsors would step forward for future flights, saying he wanted to focus on Hy-Vee’s generosity. He said the chain has supported the central Iowa Honor Flights.
“They’ve been behind us for a long time, but now they’ve really stepped up,” he said.
Representatives of the local Hy-Vee stores said they are pleased to be involved. Several Hy-Vee employees have volunteered or been on previous Honor Flights, said Matt Ludwig, store director of the Hy-Vee on Devils Glen Road in Bettendorf. The donation had been in the works for several months,
“These people have already paid and sacrificed to defend the freedom we enjoy,” he said. “This is one small way to show our appreciation.
“For Hy-Vee employees who have been involved, it has touched their lives.”
Morrison is always amazed at the generosity of the community to help Honor Flight. A doctor recently gave him $5,000, saying that she was donating her patient fees for one day.
Art Petersen, a board member who has been on three Honor Flights, said generosity abounds. Groups are always calling about donations and fundraisers. A recently married couple donated $500 from the dollar dance at their wedding.
“It is just stuff like that that is so heart-warming,” he said.
Petersen called the Hy-Vee donation overwhelming.
“I was surprised by the dollar amount,” he said. “The community support for our mission has been fantastic.”