by Staff Sgt. Wes Wright
JBER Public Affairs
12/10/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The
Service Member and Family Assistance Center hosted the third annual
Operation Homefront holiday toy distribution event at Joint Base
Elmendorf-Richardson Dec. 4.
More than 400 people were on hand at the event which saw hundreds of
brand new toys given out to the children of military families who signed
up weeks in advance.
"We worked with several community partners to bring the community
together and make this event a success," said Janice Collee, Operation
Homefront Pacific Northwest director of programs. "The families
registered for the event to ensure we had an appropriate count for all
ages and genders to receive a toy."Toys weren't the only things bringing
wide-eyed smiles to the faces of JBER's children.
"Home Depot brought a kids clinic to set up for the children to make a
project to take home with them," Collee said. "We also had Hank the
Moose available for the families to get their pictures taken. Santa was
there, and the children were definitely excited. We had a gift wrap
station so the families didn't have to worry about wrapping their gifts
at home. We also had food provided by the base security forces
personnel. Additionally, the Armed Forces YMCA was a partner with us for
the first time."
Gloria Schiers, wife of Staff Sgt. Nathan Schiers, 962d Airborne Air
Control Squadron communications systems operator, brought their daughter
Kambryn, 3, to the event and was impressed with everything the
organizers put together.
"It's an amazing experience just to be able to be here, especially for
people who maybe can't do much. Seeing the kids' faces light up is what
it's all about."Organizers began putting the event together in August to
allow time for donors to contribute and time for families to sign up
for reserved attendance slots, which fill up rapidly after they're
announced, according to Collee.
"The event was a huge success for the families," Colle said. "Anytime
you can bring community partners together and families in the community
to help build strong military families it is a success. We had huge
support from the command at JBER as well. It shows the comradery of this
community and the support the families have from the local community."
Operation Homefront's mission is to help build strong, stable military
families through family and emergency assistance programs. More than
$7,000 worth of toys were given out to JBER's children through the toy
Maria Vazqueze, wife of Bryan Vazqueze, 4th Quartermaster Company, 725th
Brigade Support Battalion (Airborne), 4th Brigade Combat Team
(Airborne), 25th Infantry Division rigger, was excited to bring their
daughter, Angelique, 2, to pick out a toy.
"It's awesome," Vazqueze said. "It makes us a more tight-knit family and
community. It's great to be able to have these types of resources. It
demonstrates how supportive the local community is of military
According to Dana Rosso, 673d Air Base Wing Public Affairs community
engagement chief, the event highlighted the positive relationship the
base has with Anchorage.
"We have a multitude of internal programs here at JBER designed to help
us reach out and support the local community," Rosso said. "It's always
see the community giving back so enthusiastically."