Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Schriever Sentinel

2 SOPS toy drive extends to entire base population

1st Lt. Marshall Tillis and other members of the 2nd Space Operations Squadron select their ornaments from the squadron Angel Tree Nov 17. The ornaments represent local less-fortunate kids in the Colorado Springs area and contain a wish list for each child.

1st Lt. Marshall Tillis and other members of the 2nd Space Operations Squadron select their ornaments from the squadron Angel Tree Nov 17. The ornaments represent local less-fortunate kids in the Colorado Springs area and contain a wish list for each child.

By Scott Prater

Schriever Sentinel

Kristin Hunt will never get to witness the glee she helps create. She’ll never see the gratitude and happiness, or the smiles and laughter her efforts invoke.

And, chances are, the children she helps won’t experience a traditional Christmas celebration this holiday season. But, she knows her generous thoughts and efforts will be more than appreciated by the people who need them most.

For the third consecutive year, Ms. Hunt will lead the “Christmas For Kids” campaign at Schriever.

The program, sponsored by the 2nd Space Operations Squadron, also for the third consecutive year, will provide Christmas gifts to local children who have been removed from their families.

“I had a really good life growing up, but there were kids in my neighborhood who didn’t,” Ms. Hunt said. “I always felt bad for them. They would come over and want to play with the things we had, and I know they didn’t feel normal.”

She first thought of the idea for helping children in need while she was stationed at the Channel Islands as part of the 146th Logistics Squadron several years ago.

“We obtained names for some children who were in protective services and held a toy drive,” she said. “We put the names of kids on ornaments, along with their wish list on the back. Airmen would then come by, pick up an ornament with a child’s name on it, buy the gift and return it to us. Child protective services then picked up the gifts and delivered to the children.”

Christmas for Kids here at Schriever works the same way. Ms. Hunt, her fellow campaign members and 2nd SOPS volunteers put up a Christmas tree in room 147 of building 300. They’ve also obtained the names of 100 local children, ranging in age from 3 months to 17 years, who have been removed from their families.

“This event has been a huge success in 2nd SOPS the past couple of years and this year we’re getting to the point where we have more kids than we have people in our squadron,” said 2nd SOPS Commander Lt. Col. Deanna Burt. “We want to try and help as many kids as possible, so that is why we decided to open the program to the entire base. We hope to expand each year so we help even more kids.”

Anyone wishing to participate can visit the tree between now and Nov. 30 and either select an ornament and purchase the gifts for a specific child, or make a cash donation.

“The whole thing is, these kids are in a difficult situation and Christmas time is a good time to make sure their lives are somewhat similar to everyone else’s,” Ms. Hunt said. “When they go back to school in January they’ll have new clothes and toys just like their friends do. We want to make Christmas a normal time for them.”

The campaign is growing. In 2007, the 2nd SOPS tree held 50 ornaments. Last year that number climbed to 75. And this year volunteers decided to bring the effort base wide and upped the number of ornaments (children) to 100.

Anyone wishing to donate can do so with Ms. Wanda Winstead in Building 300 room 147 or with Ms. Kristin Hunt in room 305.

Given the nature of child protective services, supporters won’t get a chance to see the joy they’ll bring to the children who will benefit.

“Because we’re dealing with child protective services, we are not allowed to meet the children,” Ms. Hunt said. “But, everyone who donates will get a chance to see all of the gifts around the Christmas tree. It’s impressive  –  like walking into a toy store.”

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