by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond
111th Attack Wing Public Affairs
12/14/2015 - HORSHAM AIR GUARD STATION, Pa. -- Volunteers
from the 111th Attack Wing provided a generous dose of holiday cheer to
nearly 60 severely-handicapped adults from the local area during a
holiday party at the dining facility here Dec. 13.
The Guardsmen fashioned a full-tilt party complete with a traditional
holiday dinner; music and dancing; a visit and photo with Santa Claus;
and gifts provided by local Scouting units and personal donations.
"This event is a community outreach partnership with the (111th Attack
Wing's) Chiefs Council and KenCrest Community Homes," Tech. Sgt.
Danielle Heidrick, part of the 111th Air Operations Group commander's
support staff. "The early 1980's is roughly the first time that anyone
can date back this event. It started out as just a small get-together
with the community hosted by the 913th Airlift Group (a Reserve unit
formerly stationed here) serving some snacks - pretzels and popcorn -
and small gifts bags for the patients."
Heidrick said that the event evolved from a tiny gathering held in an
aircraft hangar to a full-fledged festivity that now serves close to 100
handicapped patients and their caretakers.
"I started helping out back in 1995, so today marks my 20th year doing
this," said Capt. Daniel Taylor, the logistics plans officer for the
111th Attack Wing. "When I began, they did this annual party and it was
held in a room no bigger than a large office. We used to bring about 20
to 30 [patients in residential services] in and we would have simple
snacks; we'd have Santa Claus and give them some hygiene products. But
over the past 20 years, how big this has gotten and the amount of
support we've received from people is unbelievable."
Taylor said that each year the guests ask volunteers if the Wing will be continuing the tradition for the next year.
So far, it appears the 111th ATKW will preserve the practice of
presenting holiday cheer for those who appreciate it most - patients and
"The way the guests look when come in, when they get to have a gift,
when they get to sit with Santa Claus, when they take home a hygiene bag
- these are the reasons we put our time and our hearts into this event
each year," said Heidrick. "This might be the only holiday event they
have to get out to attend each year. That's why we do it."
After enjoying their meals, the guests were treated to a visit by Santa
Claus, who posed for pictures and distributed the donated gift bags and
While the visitors waited to meet with Father Christmas, they were
entertained with holiday-themed and popular music, with many attendees
boogying to the tunes.
Members from the 111th Services Squadron and other units prepared for
the event months prior and, with the help of other unit volunteers,
served the food during the occasion.
"We not only had plenty of food for everyone here today, but we're are
actually going to send them home with trays and trays of food," said
Senior Master Sgt. Lauren Paul, the service superintendent of the 111th
ATKW. "We started preparing for this around September in order to be
sure we'd have everything that we'd need, from the food to the gift
bags. Everything worked out great; and it seems like everyone is having a
While the guests rejoiced in the food, music and gifts, the Guardsmen
reveled in the progression of the event from a simple gathering to a
"It's awesome," said Taylor. "We're truly blessed to see that we can
give back; being able to watch the faces of the individuals. It gets
better every year."