Military News

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Programs demonstrate holiday generosity

by Dave Smith
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer

11/16/2015 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The arrival of the holiday season presents not only opportunities to receive, but to give as well. Two programs on Peterson Air Force Base stand out in providing ways to do both.

Angel trees, coordinated through the Peterson AFB Chapel, are sponsored by various groups and located in six spots around the base. The Santa Shop is operated through the Airman's Attic and located in their shop at building 1525 across from the R.P. Lee Youth Center.

Both programs aim to help fill in the gaps for families in need, whether it is due to a rough time financially, temporary duty assignment or some other reason. Chaplain (Capt.) Jessica Werner said many people are familiar with the Angel trees and have participated in various versions, so they already have some knowledge about what is taking place.

"It's to give the kiddos stuff and things they might need," she said.

The Santa Shop is similar in its focus. Shoppers at the Airman's Attic get to make an additional trip to the Santa Shop to select gifts for their children. This visit is above the once per week trip allowed to the Airman's Attic. Each shopper is allowed one trip and one gift per child.

During the year staff at the Airman's Attic watch for new and almost new items that can be used as a child's Christmas gift and they are set aside for the Santa Shop. Shoppers are told when they arrive at the store they can go into the Santa Shop, a back room at the store. Shoppers sign in and are assisted by a staff volunteer as they go around the room selecting gifts. Two shoppers at a time can visit the shop, and when they are finished staff will come and get the next person in line. That system helps get more people through the Santa Shop said Rackel Haskell, Airman's Attic volunteer manager.

Gifts include things like Wii and PlayStation game consoles and families can pick up extra items like stocking stuffers and wrapping paper as bonuses. Most items are for early teens and younger Haskell said. The Santa Shop is open to E-5 and below, with children, who are normally eligible to use the facility. Santa Shop will open Nov. 30 and run until there are no gifts left, usually about two weeks.

Angel trees are operated in near anonymity, said Master Sgt. Scott Devine, 21st Space Wing superintendent of chapel operations, and participation is open to anyone who is associated with Peterson AFB. Information about those submitted to receive gifts is given to either the chapel or to one's first sergeant. The name, gender, age, wants, needs and sizes are required. Names will be left off of the angels when placed on trees to preserve anonymity. Items area delivered to recipients by the first sergeants or by chapel staff.

"There is still a stigma," Devine said about receiving gifts from the Angel trees. "We are trying to get rid of the stigma. It's an opportunity to give back. The leadership at the command bases wants to give back to the Airmen on the base. It is their opportunity to show appreciation and give back during the holiday season."

Angels are removed from trees and the information on them is used as a guide to giving gifts. There is no limit as to how many angels can be taken. For example a family may each wish to take an angel or someone may wish to take more than one, which is acceptable. When gifts are purchased they should be brought unwrapped to the chapel.

Anyone can be submitted to receive Angel tree gifts regardless of rank or connection to the base. For children submitted to receive gifts there is an age limit of 17 years old.
Some Angel trees are already in place with angels on them and all six will be ready by Nov. 20. They're located at the chapel, building 350, the physical fitness center, Air Force Space Command headquarters, NORAD/ NORTHCOM headquarters and the Base Exchange. The program runs until Dec. 11.

About 30 angel submissions have been made already, but they would like to have more, Werner said.  Gifts should be dropped off at the chapel no later than Dec. 14. Donations of wrapping paper are needed as well.

"During this time of year people have a heart to give. For the most part a lot of people give out of generosity. It is a joy to give," Werner said.

"We do it as much for us as for them because we get such a kick out of it," said Sandra Trean, donation lead at the Airman's Attic.

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