Airmen spread holiday cheer

  • Published
  • By Steven J. Merrill
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
In the same manner they are accomplishing great feats around the world, Airmen across Ellsworth took on a special mission to make a difference in the lives of their fellow bluesuiters and families in the community during the holiday season.

As part of a handful of programs, Airmen from several organizations gathered and delivered thousands of gifts for children living on base, in Box Elder and Rapid City, S.D. While it was the first time many had participated in these types of activities, for others, it was continuing a rich tradition of making the holidays brighter.

Tech. Sgt. Andriea Cook, 28th Operations Support Squadron host aviation resource management office superintendent, oversaw one of the programs -- the 28th Operations Group Angel Tree. About 20 volunteers from the base assisted in delivering nearly 200 gifts the group collected for children enrolled in the Youth & Family Services Child Care program. The gifts were delivered aboard the base's Festival of Lights parade float with help from Santa and Mrs. Claus.

"This is the fifth year we've done this," said Col. John Nichols, 28th OG commander. "This is our opportunity to give back to our community and provide a special Christmas to children who may not receive a gift otherwise. When the float pulled into the parking, the eyes and faces of the children just lit up."

Stacey Heverly, 28th Civil Engineer Squadron office automation assistant, said Airmen in CE collected about 150 toys in support of the Douglas High School's Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Gifts from the Heart program. Airmen had the opportunity to take a paper heart that represented a child from Ellsworth or Box Elder from a special Christmas tree set up in the lobby of the 28th CES headquarters building and purchase a gift.

"Our tree looked beautiful with all the toys under it," Heverly said.

Senior Master Sgt. Debra Sampson, 28th Logistics Readiness Squadron first sergeant, said the base First Sergeants Council collected more than 4,000 gifts of all sizes and shapes during the holiday season for children of base Airmen.

"We had a wonderful outpouring of support," Sampson said. "It is truly humbling, especially during these tough economic times. It makes me so proud."