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Volunteer Airmen are serving in many ways this holiday season

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, Tenn. --

Local events include a Blount County toy drive, Angel Tree, the annual Santa Cops event, and a Veteran’s food drive.


“As members of the community and representatives of the Air National Guard, I think Volunteerism is incredibly important,” said Tech. Sgt. Teri Eicher, president of Junior Enlisted Advisory Association. “The community benefits from our ability to help, and we benefit from the community knowing that we are also part of the community.”


The Airmen of the 134th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron are participating for first time in a local toy drive to help the Junior Service League of Maryville.


Second Lt. Brittany Trentham, aircraft maintenance operations officer for the 134th AMXS, said they chose this event because there are several maintainers whose family members are involved with the Junior Service League of Maryville.


“This became a way to not only support a community event, but also support AMXS families in their efforts to serve our community,” said Trentham. “Our communities are where we live, work and play. They do so much to support us and our families as we serve here and abroad, so it is important that we give back as much as we can.”


Members of JEAA hosted another opportunity to help.


The JEAA hosted a canned and non-perishable food drive to support the Blount County Veteran’s food pantry Nov. 3 - Dec. 4.


This year, the Blount County Veterans Association said they are in most need of canned meats, soups and crackers, but any donation will be appreciated.


Eicher said JEAA has chosen this event as a way to help the many Veterans within the community.


“There are a lot of Veterans in this community that need help and this is why we choose to host this event every year,” said Eicher. “To us, this is a way we can give back to those who have served and fought for this country before us.”


The Family Readiness Center hosted an Angel Tree for Blount County to give back to the local community and help families in need during the holiday season.


The 18th Annual Santa Cops event hosted by the 134th Security Forces Squadron also took place as a way to spread holiday cheer to children at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.


Throughout the year, Airmen from SFS, as well as other squadrons on base, help raise money to contribute to Santa Cops. The event supports hospitalized children and their families during the holidays. Santa, Ms. Claus, their elves, and a team of “Santa Cops” purchase and deliver toys to the children who are having to spend their holidays away from home. Hungate said all the hard-work and amount of time putting this event together is well worth it when he sees children’s faces light up with excitement.

“A lot of blood, sweat and tears go into organizing this event,” said Master Sgt. Joey Hungate, Santa Cops coordinator. “Even though, SFS gets to reap the benefits by actually visiting the children and passing out gifts, this event would not be possible without the help of every Airman in the 134th Air Refueling Wing.”