Giving back: Glider pilots provide $6,000 to local kids

For years, hang glider pilots have raved about the hospitality they find in Big Spring. Saturday night, they displayed some generosity of their own.On the eve of the U.S. Hang Gliding Association National Championship, The Cloudbase Foundation, a charitable group financed through hang glider pilot donations, gave away $6,000 to three local organizations which specialize in helping children.Big Spring Independent School District, Howard Cottage and the local Child Welfare Board each received $2,000 checks from the pilots' organization during a welcoming reception for the pilots at Hog Heaven Party Barn.The charitable foundation was formed less than three years ago, said Belinda Straub, who presented the donations Saturday night.“It was started by a group of pilots who went down to Ecuador and were struck by the level of poverty there,” Straub said. “The next year they went, they brought money with them to donate to the people there … We said, 'You know, we could do this every year.'”The foundation typically makes donations at several meets a year as a way of building an emotional bridge between the pilots and the communities where they compete.“We feel grateful to come to Big Spring and we definitely enjoy being here,” Straub said. “We don't think of Big Spring as a poor place, but these are rough economic times, and we know there are children here who need a helping hand.”BSISD will use its donation to purchase school supplies for needy children and Howard Cottage, the daycare center operated by Howard College, will use its donation for parents who can't afford the Cottage's services. The Child Welfare Board, meanwhile, will use its money to purchase various items for its Rainbow Room, which services children who have been removed from their homes.