by Senior Airman Rachel Hammes
55th Wing Public Affairs
12/15/2015 - OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- Three
boys fought with foam swords in front of a giant Christmas tree,
pausing occasionally to fall dramatically to the ground in a parody of
injury. Presents were stacked under the tree, spreading outwards from
the lit branches in tantalizingly bright holiday wrapping paper. A line
of children stretched around a table, waiting while a young girl had a
superhero mask painted on her face. Other children chatted and laughed
at tables spread across the room, coloring pictures and eating breakfast
sandwiches - and candy.
This organized cheeriness inside the Pointe at Rising View at Offutt Air
Force Base, was part two of the holiday event hosted by the
Reconnaissance Crews Booster Club, which began hours earlier on
Saturday, Dec. 12.
The children had been up since 6 a.m., picked up by volunteer chaperones
and taken to local stores to buy winter clothing and shoes. Each child
was provided with a $200 budget out of Booster Club funds.
"They got to pick out whatever they wanted," said Capt. Meredith Brown, a
member of the 55th Operations Group Commander's Action Group, who
volunteered as a chaperone. "The chaperones got to help with sizes and
things like that, but they got to choose whatever toys and clothes they
wanted. I think them having the freedom to shop and have a little
independence that way is cool. They get an opportunity to meet new
Following the shopping trip, the children were brought back to the
Pointe at Rising View and given breakfast. In addition to the face
painting, children got to participate in a magic show and receive a
visit from Santa, who passed out the gifts under the tree.
"I'm having a good day," said Mariska Kassi, a 10-year-old who
participated in the event. "I got to go shopping and I got to have fun
with my sister. My favorite part was the actual party, because they had
great food. There were activities and there was plenty of space for
people to have sword fights."
This is the 42nd year the Booster Club has hosted the event, which
provides support to underprivileged children selected by their schools'
Head Start programs.
"When we take the kids shopping, we see that a lot of them are wearing
shoes that are too small," said Capt. Sarah Cooke, a coordinator of the
event and an RC-135 Rivet Joint pilot here. "For some of them, this
might be the only holiday celebration they get, and this might be the
only warm winter clothing they have all year round."
Cooke has helped coordinate the event for the last two years. Planning
starts in January of each year, and the pace doesn't slow until after
the event in December. Funding is provided by the Booster Club through
the Combined Federal Campaign, while the presents under the tree are the
result of a 55th Wing toy drive.
"I think this event is important because the money comes from Sarpy
County, and you can visibly see that it is benefitting Sarpy County
members," Cooke said. "Every year for the last 42 years we have been
able to make a difference in the lives of members of our community, and I
really think that speaks volumes for community involvement, community
support and camaraderie at Offutt. I never have to send out volunteer
requests - I just get e-mails from people interested in volunteering."