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The act of giving
A food drive took place at the Airmen and Family Readiness Center here, so families could have the opportunity to enjoy a tasty holiday cheer Nov. 22-26. Around 7300 pounds of food and 249 turkeys were being prepared, as a gaggle of volunteers went around in a circle putting food supplies in bags. (U.S. Air force photo by Airman 1st Class Jelani Gibson)
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Bountiful bags: Food drive gives Airmen Thanksgiving Day feast

Posted 11/27/2013   Updated 11/27/2013 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Jelani Gibson
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

11/27/2013 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- As Thanksgiving day closes in, more than 240 families will be greeted by the smell of oven roasted turkey with a side of cranberry, stuffing and fresh baked rolls wafting through the house. Soon, the decadent odors will marry the sounds of merriment among family and friends.

The tasty holiday cheer was made possible for 249 Sheppard Airmen and their families who may have not had the opportunity when their wingmen volunteered in the brisk winter air and collected food during the Sheppard food drive recently.

"I have almost 40 years of blue blood in me," said Charley Ringwood, Airman and Family Readiness Center advisor and retired Air Force first sergeant. "The Air Force has been good to me and my family."

More than 7,300 pounds of food and turkeys were collected. A gaggle of volunteers went around in a circle, filling those bags with the necessary items for a Thanksgiving Day feast. In the hallway, the brown paper grocery bags lined the corridors of the building waiting to be picked up. Outside, turkey was piled into a high mound, as volunteers made sure the feasts-in-a-bag where hand delivered on the frost-bitten ground to those who needed it.

"This is something that makes you feel good, people helping people," Ringwood said. "We always take care of our own. We always have and always will."

Taking care of others is something one Airman took to heart during this holiday season. For Airman 1st Class James Thompson, a 365th Training Squadron student studying to be a communications navigation specialist, the volunteer effort was something he immediately got on board with.

Upon hearing about the food drive, the Philadelphia, Pa., native and father of three, challenged his training squadron to step up and help make a difference for other fellow Airmen. During the drive, he found himself on the receiving end of helping hands when he ended up in the hospital after a surgery and needed financial help himself. With his wife by his side in the intensive care unit, he continued to coordinate food collection by phone.

"I'm just amazed that many families are being touched by it," he said.

Thompson wanted to make sure, even from his hospital bed, to finish what he had started. But, the financial hardship of flying his wife to Texas from Pennsylvania nearly derailed his efforts, if not for the support of his classmates.

"Within 24 hours the plane ticket, rental car and expenses were paid for," said Tech. Sgt. Joseph Siler, 365th Training Squadron instructor. "We were sitting around trying to figure out a way to help him, when the red rope, Airman 1st Class Cruz, walks in with an envelope full of money he collected from other Airmen."

Although helping with the volunteer effort from the hospital bed was hard, the thought of other families enjoying a dinner is what kept Thompson going. Now on the mend, Thompson was able to collect more than 1,900 pounds of food and $1,649 in cash for the overall event.
While the bags and bird alike had already been prepped for enjoyment, they were picked up by fellow Airmen for dispersal throughout workplaces on Sheppard.

Master Sgt. Jesus Sanchez, 82nd Logistics Readiness Squadron superintendent, sees the Airmen as a small family and wanted to show appreciation for the work they do.

"It shows (Airmen) that the squadron and supervision care," he said.

As the time for feasting approaches Sheppard, full stomachs and the spirit of giving seem to be on the menu.

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