Local pilots collecting toys for tornado victims

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

A group of Shelby County pilots is switching the focus of a May 21 event originally planned to support businesses in Baldwin County affected by the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Several pilots originally planned to fly from the Shelby County Airport to Gulf Shores to show their continued support for the businesses on the coast, but are now flying to Gulf Shores to collect toys for children affected by the April 27 tornado outbreak.

“We are still flying to the gulf, but our focus has changed,” said local pilot Johnny Barnes. “We are still flying down there, but we are flying down there to pick up toys, fly them back and give them out to kids who lost everything in the tornadoes.”

The airport will also be collecting toy donations between now and the day of the event. Donations can be dropped off at the airport terminal at 265 Weather Vane Road. For more information, or to schedule a donation drop-off, call airport Manager Terry Franklin.

“If a 2-year-old lost his teddy bear, it would be the same as a grown man losing his car and his home,” Barnes said.