PTCC Event Photos

2023 VA Recreational Therapy Program








In April, our VA Recreational Therapy Chairperson Richard Hernandez and his wife Barbara met with the VA Voluntary Services Specialist Penny Craft to provide much needed items for the Vets with disabilities as well as dementia and Alzheimer’s patients who rely on donations to help achieve their goals. This donation was made possible thru a grant from the Don MacKenzie grant program from Job well done!

Acacia Elementary School – Read to Ride – 2022

The year was 2010. We were looking for a Title 1 school to work with. Two other schools declined  our help due to all the
paperwork and time involved. Acacia  welcomed us with open arms. With Principal Christine Hollingsworth and Pioneer Tom Nelson leading our many other volunteers, the Phoenix Thunderbird Combined Club (PTCC) started helping the school with the goal to help it and its students succeed.

Tom collected new and used computers, refurbished them, and helped upgrade the computer lab for school. PTCC donated clothing to a community closet for school families and food to a food pantry at the school. Art supplies, school supplies, office supplies, Honor Roll gifts and Teacher recognition luncheons were provided to support the school, the teachers, the students, and their families.

Our most enduring project is the Read to Ride project. We provide 8 bicycles with locks and helmets to be awarded in May each year. This project supports the national reading program. Students read books and take an online test to verify the student read the book and understands the content. Each test the student passes puts their name in a drawing for a bike. The students love this program and look forward to the drawing each year. When we award the bikes, the students know who the Pioneers are and that we care.

Acacia just requalified as an A++++ school with a student body of 761 students and has a waiting list to join this school.

Thank you to Barbara and Richard Hernandez who delivered bikes that the Phoenix Thunderbirds provided to Acacia School to support their Read to Ride program using our 2022 grant funds.

Cross Christian Academy Baby Project – 2022

Attached is a picture of items purchased for 2022 grant project. We purchased shorts, crib sheets, underwear, baby wipes, sippy cups, thermometers, blankets.

Phoenix VA Hospital Wish List – 2022

The Phoenix Thunderbird Pioneer Club delivered 22 pairs of sweatpants to the VA Hospital CLC Department. This item was on their wish list and was made possible by the grant for this project.

Hearing and Vision Screening – 2022

The Phoenix Thunderbird Pioneers were able to volunteer with the Sensory Screening Program which supports hearing and vision screening for children in the State of AZ. Hearing and Vision Screening events, which are generally initiated at the beginning of the school year and are held in compliance with AZ State Law and Department of Health Guidelines, are held at elementary schools throughout the state. One such event was held Thursday and Friday, November 3 and 4, 2022, at Mt. View School in Phoenix. The events were well organized, and hundreds of students were screened.

The state mandates require that a program for hearing and vision screening be held for children in an effort to identify any impairments. Without a screening test, a problem may not be found until a child develops educational or even medical problems. With screenings, a child’s previously unrecognized problems may be identified. The screenings are done with State approved screening equipment with current calibration, by Certified Hearing Screeners.

Pencil Pals – Mountain View School, Phoenix

Write On, Pencil Pals is a program at Mountain View School in Phoenix, Arizona, that promotes literacy and seeks to enhance reading and writing skills. The students are third and fourth graders between the ages of 8 and 10. Twice a month, the volunteer Pencil Pal writes to their student.

Friday, May 6th, was the Pencil Pals Party for 3rd graders at Mountainview Elementary School.  Besides some games and snacks, the group made blankets for the Linus Project.  Last year, the 42 blankets made by Pencil Pals went to a camp for children with cancer.  This year the blankets will also go to a deserving child or perhaps a veteran.  Community service is part of the Pencil Pals program so the children learn the necessity of giving to their communities.

At the end of the school year, a Thank You party is held where the students and volunteers have a chance to visit. The importance of giving back to one’s community is stressed by doing a project for charity. This year, the groups made blankets for the local Project Linus chapter. Project Linus chapter takes the blankets to a facility where the blanket will go to a deserving child or perhaps a veteran.


The year 2020 caused considerable upheaval in our lives, but Pioneers tried to continue with our volunteer efforts. Phoenix Thunderbird Club Board voted to highlight a member who was undaunted by the Covid-19 isolation and worked many hours (More than 1500 hours) making Hug-A-Bears. With certain criterion considered, the Board selected WANDA COTHRAN as the 2020 honoree to receive commendation for her volunteer work with HAB.

Wanda, as a Partner, became involved in Hug-A-Bears several years ago and enjoys making them to this day. Trips to a fabric store to purchase Hug-A-Bear material are one of her favorite outings. Her husband was stationed in Hawaii and while there she became familiar with the various beautiful flowers of our 50th state. A bouquet of Anthurium, which is her favorite Hawaiian flower, was presented to Wanda in appreciation for her continued support of Pioneers and her many, many volunteer hours. Thank you, Wanda!


The busy Hug-A-Bear group is using their share of the fabric donated by Senior VP Caron Personke’s neighbor, Mary, to continue their Hug-A-Bear projects. Hug-A-Bears group is also thankful to Carole Spiess for donating a large supply from her collection of fabric.

The group currently has over 500 Hug-A-Bears completed and ready to be distributed. There are over 1,050 ready to be stuffed and completed with final stitching. Distribution is on hold until the hospitals have passed the Covid-19 pandemic crisis

Helping the Navajo Nation

Two hundred Hug-A-Bears, 5 regulation size basketballs, and 5 regulation size soccer balls were donated to the Female Veterans of the Navajo Nation, in Northern Arizona by Phoenix Thunderbird Club. The Navajo nation has been hit particularly hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and this group of female US military veterans is actively working to try to make the situation better. Thanks to the Hug-A-Bears group, who have a supply of the bears on hand, 200 bears were donated to a very appreciative group.

Thanks to Hug-A-Bears group member MONIKA POLLACK’s knitting talents,* 31 young children hats, * 5 baby caps, * 9 headbands, * 5 scarves, * 3 baby blankets, and * 1 baby set (blanket, cap and booties) were also donated to the thankful Female Veterans of the Navajo Nation group.

2020 Veterans’ Christmas Gift Shop

December 1, 2, and 3 was the annual Veterans’ Christmas Gift Shop, in partnership with American Legion Auxiliary. Owing to the VA Hospital being on COVID-19 lockdown, the gift shop was held at the American Legion Post #1 in Phoenix.
Phoenix Thunderbird Club donated 5 wallets and 8 flashlights which the veterans could choose as a gift for a family member or themselves.
Each veteran, thanks to Pioneers donations of wrapping items, was given a roll of wrapping paper, tape, and bows for their wrapping needs.

Fabric Donation

Mary, a neighbor of Senior VP Caron Personke, was closing her upholstery business and moving to Portugal. Caron told Mary about our various Phoenix Thunderbird Club Pioneer projects using fabric. Mary was duly impressed and, after all of her “Going Out of Business” sales were concluded, she donated fabric to Pioneers. Over 160 yards of various types of material was picked up and distributed to various Pioneers for their charity sewing projects. Louise Ray is making good use of the heavier fabrics by sewing Walker Tote Bags for Veterans and for Hospice of the Valley. These hands-free caddy bags attach neatly to walkers or scooters for carrying the items. Louise also makes large bibs and Covid-19 face masks for use by Hospice of the Valley. The busy Hug-A-Bear group is using their share of the fabric to continue their Hug-A-Bear projects.


Susan Mack, representative of St. Mary’s Food Bank, accepted a $1000. check from Phoenix Thunderbird Club Pioneers.

– – – – – – THANKS PIONEERS ! – – – – – – Lack of consistent access to adequate food is a problem 2 million Arizonans are faced with every year. In Arizona, nearly 30% of our neighbors are considered working poor, living on wages that barely cover housing and other basic necessities. One in 5 Arizonans faces food insecurity. On December 10, 2019, thanks to members’ generous donations, and fund raising funds contributed by our club, Phoenix Thunderbird Club was able to present a $1000 donation check to Susan Mack, representative of St. Mary’s Food Bank. Ms. Mack sends warm thanks to our Pioneers, “Thanks so much to Pioneers, who, over many years, have contributed so much to St. Mary’s Food Bank.”


Carole Spiess, along with Dusty, the Sr. VP’s doggie, presents $2500. check to Michael Achey, Director of Volunteer Services at Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center, Phoenix.

Thanks to fund raising and member donations, on December 10, on behalf of Phoenix Thunderbird Club, volunteer Carole Spiess presented a check to Michael Achey, Chief of Volunteer Services, for $2500. The donation is specifically for the “9911 Fund” at the Phoenix VA hospital. The VA has a lengthy list of programs where donations may be designated – i.e. from Homeless Vets (9946 Fund) to Recreational Therapy (9957 Fund). The “9911 Fund” is considered a General Purpose Fund to be used to assist veterans in critical situations. As Carole has volunteered with Volunteer Services for over 27 years, she knows the “9911 Fund” money is not handed out lightly, so we know our funds will go directly to help a vet in serious need.


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MAYER and ZIGGITY and STRAWBERRY and ARCHIE who are just four of the dogs waiting for their new forever homes, enjoy playtime with Pioneers. Small Dog Rescue in Phoenix, a 501(c)3, appreciates Pioneers volunteering. It’s not a tough gig to play with little dogs for a couple of hours! The dogs love it, too. The volunteers play with the dogs, give them some exercise, and help socialize them which increases their chances of finding a new home. Flexible scheduling makes it easy to volunteer – once a day, once a week, once a month. Help your community’s four-legged canine citizens by calling Small Dog Rescue (602) 944-2440 to volunteer to be a Puppy Pal.

Bike and Laptop Assembly

Basic principle of Title I is that schools with large impoverished student population will receive supplemental federal funds to help students meet educational goals.

Acacia Elementary School is a Title I school in Phoenix.  The school, 3021 W. Evans Drive, has a high concentration of children who are behind or at risk of falling behind.  Since 2010, Phoenix Thunderbird Club has been helping by primarily supporting the school’s reading and math improvement programs.  Pioneers have donated thousands of dollars’ worth of awards to students as they make progress throughout each school year.

One of the most anticipated school assemblies is the end-of-school-year awarding of bicycles, safety helmets, and locks in a “Read to Ride” program and laptops in the “Math Improvement” program.  Any and all students may participate in the yearly programs.  Since this program was started by Phoenix Thunderbird Club Pioneers, over 65 bicycles have been awarded to students.  Each bicycle is given with a bike safety helmet and bicycle lock.

Not only do the highest achievers receive awards, other students who have made remarkable strides are also given awards.  In addition, 141 prizes have been awarded to Honor Roll students, thousands of items of clothing (i.e. 1,092 new jackets, pairs of shoes, and general clothing items) have been donated, over 12,400 back-to-school items have been donated to the students, and 2659 books have been donated for the children to keep as their own – for many, the first book they have ever owned.

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VA Wrapping Supplies Donation

Edna Keller, our awesome Secretary/Treasurer, stands proud with the first collection of Carole Spiess’ challenge to provide all wrapping paper, bows, boxes, etc. for the Gift Shop sponsored by the local American Legion Auxiliaries at the VA Hospital.  Veterans who are staying or doctoring in the hospital may shop for Christmas gifts, free of charge, to give to their loved ones.  With Phoenix Thunderbird Pioneers donating the gift wrapping supplies, all money collected for the Gift Shop is used to purchase the gift items.  This is our second year.  Can’t wait to see November’s collection!  Thank you Phx-Tbird Pioneers – you make us so proud!

VA New Mothers Baskets

Our awesome Hug-a-Bear members, Monika Pollack (Volunteer-pictured left) was busy knitting away making 7-preemie caps/booties sets, 24 caps in varied sizes, headbands and a beautiful blanket for the VA new mothers baskets. Louise Ray (Lifetime member- pictured right) was busy making 14 of her awesome walker bags, double-sided and sturdy to hold many items for the VA Veterans. We appreciate both of these wonderful volunteers.

Back To School Drive

Phoenix Thunderbird’s September luncheon back to school drive.  Over 200 items collected, with more to arrive at the October luncheon.  Prior delivery of over 650 spiral notebooks were collected in September.  THANK YOU PHX TBIRD’S for all your gracious donations. Ellen we love your schoolbus box.


On March 21st, 2018 at the Phoenix Thunderbird Club monthly luncheon, we were honored to have Marion Emmons and Joe O’Hagan from HonorHealth (formally known as JC Lincoln Medical Center) Auxiliary  join us.   They are not only volunteers for the hospital auxiliary, they are also Telephone Pioneers. Marion Emmons – Past President of the Auxiliary, made a VERY SPECIAL THANK YOU to Helen Trobough and all of her volunteers, for the many Hug-A-Bear donated to their facility and presented her with $400.00 in cash to help continue providing Hug-A-Bear’s to comfort all the children going through various illnesses, injuries, or trauma’s.