Angel Tree program brings holiday cheer to military children

Angel Tree program brings holiday cheer to military children

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — The Angel Tree is a holiday tradition that happens each year around the country, and it’s no different at Hill Air Force Base, as the program helps families in need give their children a memorable Christmas.

The Angel Tree program was created by The Salvation Army in 1979 to provide clothing and toys for children at Christmastime through the support of community donations.

At Hill AFB, the chapel facilitates the event each year. However, the program is organized and run by military and civilian volunteers from the base and local community.

Tech. Sgt. Brandon Rogers, Defense Information Systems Agency, helped the first sergeants organize several of the volunteers. He said he was happy for this opportunity to help out as the spirit of the holiday season is giving and making sure everyone is taken care of.

“That’s our job as Wingmen…to take care of each other,” he said.

First sergeants generate the Angel Tree cards by anonymously nominating military families from the base. For each child, three cards were generated: one for clothing, one for a toy and one for pajamas.

Volunteers make gift tags and collect, organize and distribute the gifts to the base’s first sergeants for delivery. On distribution day this year, volunteers sorted and wrapped hundreds of packages, filling the chapel’s pews with gifts ready for delivery.

Lead volunteer Geri Carrier said 225 children from 92 families were assisted this year, and that number could grow by Christmas if there are military families that move to Hill AFB and need assistance.

She said she’s grateful for the additional donations that come in not tied to the Angel Tree cards. This year, a private organization run by Airmen anonymously donated a number of oversized, stuffed animals.

Carrier has been the lead volunteer with the base’s Angel Tree program for 11 years and said the civilian volunteers are mostly retirees and spouses who come back every year to be a part of the program.

She and the others volunteer each year to pay it forward, she said, because they remember what it is like to be a young Airman starting out with a family and not having enough money to cover everything.

“My husband and I were in the same position and the kindness of other people helped us out,” Carrier said. “Volunteering tells the young troops out there that we care and we know what they are going through.”

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