Sparrow physician plays Santa by hitting the skies to bring gifts to kids in need

A Sparrow physician is going to the air to deliver toys to children in need this weekend, but he’s not pretending to be Santa.

Alan Neiberg, M.D., is joining numerous other pilots in Operation Good Cheer, in which more than 17,000 donated toys are flown to 25 airports throughout Michigan and dropped off for children who are victims of abuse, neglect and abandonment. The program is organized by the Okemos-based Child and Family Services of Michigan, Inc.

The pilots leave Saturday from Oakland County International Airport, flying their own aircraft filled to capacity with Christmas gifts. They will be greeted at destination airports by staff and volunteers from 70 participating local social service agencies, who will pick up and deliver the gifts.

“The idea is there are people that have needs and we can help,” Dr. Neiberg said. “That’s what doctors do, we want to help. Doctors like to do nice things for people. This is an opportunity to help someone in need.”

Dr. Neiberg, an Internist, will fly with his piloting partner William Beecroft, M.D., formerly of Sparrow Behavioral Health and currently with Blue Care Network. The pair have flown Angel or Mercy Flights for years, donating their time and planes to transport Patients with financial need to specialized care throughout the Midwest.