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Crowd Trades Food for Air Tickets

January 9, 1998

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ An airline that offered free tickets to anyone who showed up at a stadium parking lot with a case of food for the poor was overwhelmed by generosity Friday.

Nearly 3,000 people, bearing canned goods and braving bitter cold, were lined up in the dark when Vanguard Airlines arrived at Kauffman Stadium about 4 a.m.

Airline officials who had planned on giving away no more than 1,000 round-trip tickets, good for anywhere the airline flies, were caught off guard by the size of the crowd, since a similar offer in Pittsburgh last month brought in only about 20 people.

``We were surprised that people were willing to sit outside in the cold all night,″ Vanguard spokeswoman Lynne McAdoo said. ``We saw all the cars and said `Wow.‴

About 2,800 tickets were given away, McAdoo said. Those further back in line got vouchers for $25. By 5 a.m., people were being turned away empty-handed.

Vanguard collected nearly 50,000 pounds of food.

``It’s a slow time for us and the food banks, and it seemed like a good time for everyone,″ McAdoo said.

Vanguard’s headquarters is Kansas City and offers service to Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Denver, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York City and Pittsburgh.

The same food-for-tickets offer will be conducted in Atlanta on Monday and Dallas on Wednesday.

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