NEWARK - Flight attendants based at Newark Liberty International Airport recently flew on a special flight - a Thanksgiving mission to feed orphans in Guatemala.
Mary Beth Lavin began the mission "FormulaOneLife," a nonprofit made up of flight attendants who use their free travel perks to bring formula and baby supplies to orphans in third-world countries.
"About five years ago I received an email from a friend of mine who is director of an orphanage in Ethiopia," Lavin says. "She had 35 infant orphans to care for and no baby formula to feed them. I filled my luggage with as much formula as possible and flew it to her myself."
Lavin's United Airlines colleagues got on board with the project almost immediately.
Carrie Faber volunteered for the organization's annual Thanksgiving mission to Amor Del Nino, an orphanage in Guatemala. "Your heart opens up and immediately you just want to love the children," she says.
The team used donations to purchase $5,000 worth of formula, which is enough to feed more than two dozen infants for about two months.
Ana Negrete is proud to be part of the team. "There's something very beautiful and powerful being able to feed a child," she says.
The mission is more important than ever, since kidnapping of babies and corruption led the Guatemalan government to suspend international adoptions back in 2008, and the number of infant orphans is growing.
"From just last year to this year, we've seen an increase of about 30 newborns," says orphanage director Sheyrl Osborn. "Without FormulaOneLife these babies would not get the nutrition that they need. They are the life line of these babies, absolutely."
Lavin says she wouldn't be successful in her mission without her partner charities that help raise the money needed to buy the baby formula.
"FormulaOneLife" also serves orphanages in Ethiopia and Haiti.