By Tech. Sgt. Steve Grever
Air Force Public Affairs Agency
It’s amazing to see our Airmen and families come together to help those less fortunate in our communities. Their charitable spirit isn’t only for those outside the base, but for Airmen, families and civilians we team up with every day – our Air Force family.
One incredibly rewarding program many Airmen support is Operation Warmheart. This non-profit organization distributes charitable donations to service members and their families all year long, and disperses a majority of its funding during the holiday season.
In 2014, there have been many creative ways Airmen serving at bases around the globe have raised money and volunteered to organize Operation Warmheart fundraising events. Here are just a few examples of how Airmen have come together to help those in need this year.
At Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, the base first sergeants council built more than 400 Thanksgiving baskets, and collected money and food donations. According to Master Sgt. Liesbeth Bowen, 633rd Air Base Wing wing staff first sergeant, there have been a higher demand for families in need of assistance.
“Operation Warmheart is the first sergeants’ avenue to help JBLE service members through hardships,” Bowen said. “We normally provide service members in need with funding for food or bills once they’ve exhausted all options.”
After three months of planning and preparation, Airmen at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, teamed up to assemble more than 170 Thanksgiving meals for Airmen and their families as part of Operation Warmheart.
“The holidays are a special time for us,” said Senior Airman Jonathan Yang, 28th Operations Support Squadron airfield management technician. “That’s why it’s important to help out those who are struggling or going through difficult times.”
At Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Airmen from the Kaiserslautern Military Community First Sergeant Association purchased $17,500 worth of commissary gift cards to give to Airmen and their families to buy holidays meals for Thanksgiving. The funds were raised through a two-day commissary bagging event as well as other volunteer activities connected to the association’s “Ring a Bell” campaign.
“The money is for anyone in need,” said Master Sgt. David Delgado, 83rd Network Operations Squadron, Detachment 4 first sergeant. “We’ve provided relief for those who have suffered from fires, active duty deaths or something as simple as not being able to pay an electric bill. It’s a very discreet operation done through the first sergeants.”
Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, hosted an Operation Warmheart softball tournament this summer, which raised money for Airmen in the Gunfighter community. Softball teams played for 72 hours straight, People also donated other goods like diapers and canned food, which were distributed through the base first sergeants council. The softball tournament began 25 years ago to help families of Airmen supporting Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
“It brings people together from the civilian and military worlds to take care of Air Force warriors and their families,” said Allen Niksich, 366th Force Support Squadron community readiness specialist.
We’re proud and grateful of all our Airmen, supervisors, and leaders who go out of their way to ensure their coworkers and their families are taken care of during the holidays. We know their efforts help ease the financial burdens felt by many peoplein our community this time of year.
How are you supporting your fellow Airmen and their families this holiday season?
Featured image: Members of Team McConnell place donated food items in bags Nov. 25, 2014, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. Approximately 200 Thanksgiving baskets being put together by volunteers, and first sergeants delivered them to Airmen in need of a helping hand. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tara Fadenrecht/Released)