Members Spread Holiday Cheer
Thursday, December 13, 2012

ZBW Assisting Up To 150 Adults and Children Through Adopt-a-Family Program

Tis' the season — the hustle and bustle is busier than ever; multiply that by shopping for over 100 needy parents and kids, and you've got your hands really full.

Boston Center (ZBW) air traffic controllers Karen McAdam, Diane Mulligan and Nancy Yeoman have been donating money and gifts to Nashua, N.H., nonprofit, the Front Door, for the past 15 years. The Front Door’s mission helps families and individuals transition from crisis to self-sufficiency ( With McAdam, Mulligan and Yeoman's encouragement, ZBW NATCA members and other helpful citizens now help with their charitable acts.

McAdam started working with the Front Door through their soup kitchen. When she realized she wanted to do more, she started offering her help with their Adopt-A-Family holiday program.

"We started small, working with 30-40 children," said McAdam. "Now we've reached to 100, and we're actually hoping to support 150 this year! We've always fulfilled a family's wishes, never coming up short."

Members pick a family from the list the Front Door provides to McAdam. Members then buy the specified gifts on their own time. However, most NATCA members give monetary donations to McAdam, and she and friends go on a shopping spree.

"A lot of the women I work with shop for the kids," said McAdam. "But you know, a week or two before the presents are to be delivered, a lot of the men come up to me and ask how many children we have left, and they’ll open their wallets and think nothing of handing us a hundred dollars."

Many may not be familiar with the protocols regarding adopting a family. Most importantly, you are not allowed to meet with the families you are assigned due to confidentiality reasons. McAdam said she believes that's just how it should be.

“It’s not our business to know who they are, but many of the parents do send thank you notes to the Front Door Agency and Maryse Wirbal (Front Door chief executive officer) will pass them on to us," said McAdam. "And everyone in the office loves to read them. They are so heartfelt. You can tell the mother is crying as she’s writing that her daughter thought Santa forgot her ‘and then she opened the Barbie Doll you got her. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.’”

With everyone busy this year, it's important to remember that everybody has time for the gift of giving. McAdam manages her time for not only her job and NATCA's charity involvement, but also her own kids.

“I won’t lie," she said. "This is a crazy time of year for everyone. I personally shop for at least 25 kids with the donated money, and I also adopt a family or two. And then I have the shopping for my own two teenage daughters.”

McAdam said without the help of her ZBW brothers and sisters, there would be no way they would be able to make this happen.

"I can't say enough wonderful things about how generous the controllers I work with are," said McAdam. "They are so unbelievable giving. My husband called me just the other day and said that somebody had given him $150! I don't know if its every facility, but our facility is beyond generous."

McAdam and ZBW have to fulfill their wish lists by Dec. 14, if you'd like to help them please contact Karen McAdam at

Other Charitable Efforts

Members around the nation are channeling their holiday spirit and participating in charitable acts, below are two more examples of the good deeds our controllers are doing this holiday season.

ZKC Celebrates with War Veterans

We often get caught up in a whirlwind of holiday activities this time of year. But nothing can get you in the Christmas spirit more than spreading holiday cheer to those that deserve it most — the veterans that protect our freedom.

On Dec. 5, 2012, NATCA Kansas City Center (ZKC) local assembled gift bags and delivered them to patients at the Veterans Hospital in Kansas City, Mo. A group of ZKC volunteers delivered 30 gifts to veterans at the hospital, and were rewarded the chance to talk to those veterans and thank them in person for their service.

"Our efforts were greeted with appreciation and smiles," ZKC Facility Representative Dana Bain said. "We hope to double the effort next year."

Pictured left to right, Mike Fox, Dana Bain, Mike Biro, Aaron Merrick, Todd Mariani

Dana Bain (left) and Mike Biro assembling gifts (ZKC)

Member Nathan Burch's twin girls (left) and Aaron Merrick thanking veterans for their service in a Christmas card.

ZOB Members Donate Toys and Gifts to Inner-City Cleveland

Member Shelby Anders and the collected gifts for inner-city Cleveland

NATCA Legislative Activist Shelby Anders and Jeff Gerber have been collecting Christmas gifts for children that live in the inner-city of Cleveland. Shelby works closely with the schools to get Christmas lists from the children, including specifics such as what kind of toys and the sizes they wear for clothes. This year, ZOB accommodated more than 160 kids

"This year, we completely filled a 20 foot U-Haul truck," said Great Lakes Region Legislative Representative Mike Hanlon. "A lot of hard work goes into making sure these underprivileged kids have something special on Christmas Day, and it is a tremendous joy to be a part of. We are extremely grateful to Shelby for starting this program and keeping it running smoothly."