Assistant Sheriff Tim Morgan knows this as he helps to make plans for this year’s Pickens County Honor Flight trips to Washington, D.C.
The group, which sponsors trips for veterans of World War II to the memorial honoring them in the nation’s capitol, has 134 veterans on its waiting list.
Honor Flight has a trip already booked for April 20. The organization has enough funds available to cover the cost of this trip, which will probably serve 86 veterans. But that leaves at least 48 veterans on the waiting list.
A second trip is planned for the final week of May, but the numbers in the group’s bank account may complicate matters for that trip.
“We do not have enough funds to cover the May trip,” Morgan said. “We’re basically stepping out on faith that we will find a way to get the money in time for the trip.”
Because of increased travel in the summer, no chartered planes are likely to be available again until late October or early November.
Plus the summer heat in Washington would complicate a trip made in June, July or August.
But Morgan knows that for the veterans of a war that ended 65 years ago, time is very important.
“We really can’t afford to wait,” Morgan said. “If we have to wait until November, there will be some veterans who never get the chance to see the memorial. And that’s what this whole trip is about.”
The group’s cost for the trip is roughly $500 per veteran. No veteran has to pay for the trip. Guardians who accompany the veterans will pay their own way.
Morgan said he realizes that the slowdown in fundraising is related not only to the poor economy, but also due to efforts to send relief to areas destroyed by natural disasters, such as earthquakes in Haiti and Chili.
“Those are great causes, and I commend everybody who contributes and tries to help,” Morgan said. “I just hope they’ll keep their hearts and wallets open to us too. We’ve got a pretty immediate need.”
Sheriff’s officers continue to sell Honor Flight buttons for a donation of $1 or more, Morgan said.
“We’ve still got about 3,000 left,” he said. “That’s probably been our most effective fundraiser.”
Morgan said that anyone interested in contributing should call him at the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office, 898-5500. He said he would be glad to talk to any civic or church group about Honor Flight.
“Just call, and I’ll be there,” he promised.