One of the largest fundraising events for the programs at Hill Air Force Base that benefit military families is going on next Friday. The event is the 388th Spouse's Round Up, an annual silent and live auction which raised more than $30,000 in 2008 for more than 13 Hill AFB programs.
One such program that benefitted substantially from last year's fundraising efforts was the Utah Military Families Foundation, which received most of its yearly contribution from the Round Up committee.
"The Round Up is the biggest donation we get annually," said the Utah Military Families Foundation's president, Tech. Sgt. Randy Sweitzer, of the 388th Equipment Maintenance Squadron. "Without it, we wouldn't be able to support as many programs that the Airman and Family Readiness Center needs to support the local military community and their families."
Sweitzer says the foundation works closely with the AFRC to support its programs, such as Hearts Apart and Hill Heroes Dolls that help the families of deployed Airmen cope with the separation, and works with other programs that support Guard, Reserve and Department of Defense personnel and their families throughout the state of Utah.
"We collect both monetary donations as well as materials as donations," Sweitzer said.
He noted that although the foundation is still receiving donations from the same donors as the year before, the donors are not able to donate as much this year and Sweitzer is now depending on the Round Up to help the foundation meet the needs of the programs they support. He estimated that the Utah Military Families Foundation will need at least twice as much as was donated last year by the Round Up committee.
"With everything the Airman and Family Readiness Center wants to provide this year for its families and local military community, we will need everyone on base to go to this event and support it," he said.
Sweitzer emphasizes that even though the event title has "388th" in it, it does not solely benefit the 388th Fighter Wing. "It's not just a 388th thing; it's a base-wide thing. They donate to all organizations on base. It affects the whole Air Force community, even civilians."
Sweitzer recalled an event his foundation sponsored through the Hearts Apart program last February that benefitted more than 200 families of deployed Airmen. "We held a Valentine's Day dinner so that the spouses did not have to spend Valentine's Day alone. We provided a nice meal catered by the Olive Garden and we provided free childcare to allow the parents to interact with other spouses who were going through the same thing they were going through. It allowed the spouses to open up and unload if they needed to talk to someone, and we had supporting agencies there as well to help if needed."
He noted that these special programs do not receive government funding and rely solely on donations by foundations such as the Utah Military Families Foundation.
Sweitzer is encouraging his foundation's members to attend the event and reports that he still has a few tickets left. To purchase tickets, contact Sweitzer at (801) 586-4797, or Ann Maglio, of the AFRC, at (801) 777-4681. Tickets are $17 and include the price of a pulled-pork buffet dinner. A $5 at-the-door-only price will also be available for those who do not wish to eat the buffet dinner.
For more information about the 388th Spouse's Round Up event, log on to the Round Up Web site at www.388throundup.com or contact the event chairwoman, Felicia Russell, via e-mail at email@example.com.