Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Peterson Space Observer

Angels among us: Peterson ignites spirit of giving in first base-wide Angel Tree

by Airman 1st Class

Jessica Hines

21st Space Wing Public Affairs

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — It’s a familiar sight; a small paper angel on a Christmas tree inscribed with the words of a Christmas wish from a child. A testament of holiday spirit and a reflection of a community’s love during the season of giving.

Peterson is hosting its first base-wide Angel Tree program for Team Pete military families this season.

Many units on base already sponsor local ‘angels,’ but in an effort to expand community relations, a new program has been organized to reach more families in need.

Participation from the Company Grade Officers Council, First Sergeants Council, chapel and base exchange has made the base-wide initiative possible.

In past years, the base chapel has had the most commonly known tree angel program, one that has been a part of Peterson for nearly 35 years. The program was originally called the Giving Tree said Trish Mehner, Peterson chapel Protestant religious education coordinator, who has worked with the program for 20 years.

“It has been a program that has been near and dear to the chapel,” she said.

Capt. Benjamin Rich, Air Force Space Command chief of nuclear command and control systems and committee chairman for the Angel Tree program, recognized a need for a base-wide initiative and was inspired by a successful program at his previous station, Langley Air Force Base, Va.

After seeing the success of the chapel’s own program at Peterson, Captain Rich was prompted to take it a step further.

“They were doing a great thing, and I thought, here is an opportunity to expand the scope of it,” said Captain Rich.

To kick things off, Captain Rich looked to the first sergeants of Peterson to provide names of families in need. Captain Rich also partnered with the first sergeants to distribute the gifts once they have been collected.

“The first sergeants are the beginning and the end part,” he said. “The middle part is the logistics of stocking the angel tree, collecting the gifts, building the angels and wrapping the gifts, which will be done by volunteers from the CGOC and the chapel.”

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service donated wrapping paper and supplies for the gifts as well, he added.

More than 400 angels will be made available to holiday shoppers, helping close to 300 families this season, said Captain Rich.

“When people go by our tree locations at the chapel or base exchange they can grab an angel and see a bit of information on it about the recipient: gender, age, gift preference, and clothing size,” he said. “Then on the back are the instructions about what to do.”

As Peterson’s first base-wide Angel Tree program, all Airmen on base will have the opportunity to give back to their Air Force family and demonstrate the core values that bring them together.

“There are so many people giving,” said Captain Rich. “Ultimately, the greatest gifts are going to come from the donors who donate to the program. We’re just facilitating taking their generosity and making sure it’s channeled to those in need.”

Gifts will be accepted until Dec. 12 at both the chapel and BX. Chapel staff will be available to answer questions on donations and angels.

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