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Knoxville Airmen spread holiday cheer at East Tennessee Children's Hospital

Members of the 134th Security Forces Squadron delivered gifts to the children at East Tennessee Children's Hospital as part of the annual "Santa Cops" program. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Melissa Dearstone)

McGhee Tyson ANG Base --

“This is not just a 134th SFS event anymore,” said Master Sgt. Gabriel Griffin, 134th SFS unit training manager. “This event has turned into a base-wide event because everyone in one way or another, whether its manpower, monetary donations, or fundraiser events, comes together in order to raise the money needed to help the local children and their families.”


The night before the event, Airmen come together and go shopping for children on a list the hospital provided. They are given the child’s name, age and Christmas wish-list.


Cheryl Allmon, ETCH director of volunteer services and programs, said when the event takes place the spirit of Christmas comes alive throughout the hospital. 


 “It’s an incredible event,” said Allmon. “A lot of times the children here are so sick and they don’t want visitors, but suddenly there’s Santa and all these fellows in camouflage bringing gifts, and the kids just light up.”


Santa cops not only brings joy to the children and their families, but also to the volunteer Airmen.


“This experience has been humbling,” said Griffin. “The reactions and joy you receive from the children and families are the reasons we do this every year, and the reasons it is so successful.”


The 134th ARW would like to thank the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, as well as the local community, for the opportunity to volunteer and show support for the community.