Operation Warmheart: Airmen helping Airmen during the holidays

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.

Runner hands off canned goods photo
A runner hands canned goods to a member of the Joint Base Langley-Eustis First Sergeants Council as part of the proceeds for the Operation Warmheart 5k food run Nov. 7, 2014. Operation Warmheart is an outreach program for Langley and provides assistance to Airmen and their families year-round. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kayla Newman/Released)
Operation Warmheart helps JBLE members in need

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.”

Leadership school packs canned goods photo
Airman Leadership School Class 15-2 students assist base first sergeants in assembling Thanksgiving meal baskets in the Diamond Mart as part of Operation Warmheart at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Nov. 16, 2014. Each basket destined to Ellsworth families who qualify, contained ingredients to make traditional Thanksgiving dishes including mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, green bean casserole and turkey or ham. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Zachary Hada/Released)
Operation Warmheart provides holiday dinners for Ellsworth Airmen, families

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.”

Comissary bagging photo
Senior Airman Andrey Antonyuk, 603rd Air and Space Communications Squadron radio frequency transmissions technician, and Senior Airman Jeremy Walkes, 86th Communications Squadron Special Missions Flight satellite communications technician, bag a customer’s groceries during a two-day commissary bagging event for Operation Warmheart Nov. 23, 2014 at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Larissa Greatwood/Released)
Operation Warmheart brings holiday cheer to KMC

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.”

Softball tournament photo
The team “Reloaded” poses with the first sergeants after winning the championship during the Operation Warmheart softball tournament July 26, 2014, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Teams from across Idaho participated in the event lasting 72 hours. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Malissa Lott/Released)
Airmen help families, boost morale during softball tournament

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)