Just before Thanksgiving, the Hill Airman and Family Readiness Center hosted its annual care package event, where family members of deployed troops were invited to put together a holiday care package, at no cost to them, for their loved one.
The A&FRC provided all sorts of donated goods from Hill AFB and the surrounding community to fill the boxes — soaps, books, games, snacks, candy, puzzles, etc. — and shipped them to service members for free.
“I am amazed at how involved the community is and how much they want to contribute,” said Senior Master Sgt. Carrie Morgan, the Noncomissioned Officer in Charge of Readiness at the A&FRC. “One of the most enjoyable aspects of this event is being able to see the community wanting and willing to provide for our deployed members.”
The atmosphere was cheerful, with fun music and excited families pulling together boxes of goodies and even notes and colored pictures from community members and local elementary schools. “It’s nice to know someone is thinking about you, especially during the holidays,” said Morgan. “Not only is this event designed for married members, it’s also an opportunity for unit personnel or Key Spouses to put together care packages for our single Airmen. We want all deployers to know that our hearts are with them and we are thinking of them all.”
This year, on Nov. 21, a Deployment Resiliency Course was offered for deployed spouses to attend. This is the first time the A&FRC has offered this course, and it was headed up by the A&FRC office intern Ashley McNeil.
McNeil is a student pursuing a family studies degree — and she is also a military spouse. The course focused on the upcoming holidays and covered topics such as stress management, long-distance relationships and tips for maintaining communication during deployment, and advice for setting realistic expectations for the holiday season.
After the class, participants had the opportunity for VIP access to the Care Package Event.
Over 20 spouses attended this course, and McNeil hopes they took away valuable information for the upcoming holiday season without their spouse: “I hope that they take away a sense that they are not alone. There are many people in their same situation and there are resources available to them.”
She also hopes they “walk away feeling confident that they can make it through this deployment and their relationship can grow and develop despite the distance… I also hope that this event and other events give comfort to the deployed member, knowing that their families are being taken care of back home.”
For more information about events like this one, or how you can get involved with the A&FRC’s efforts to support deployed members’ families, call 801-777-4681.