By Dave Smith
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Things in life happen and families sometimes find themselves in need around the holidays. Whether the cause is a temporary duty assignment, financial struggles or something else, the Angel Tree program is there to help fill in the gaps.
Angel Tree is a well-known program across the country, run at Peterson Air Force Base by the base chapel. It aims to reach anyone who is part of the Team Pete family and going through difficulties.
From Nov. 15 — Dec. 12 people can go to a tree, remove an angel and purchase the item listed for that particular child. Once purchased, gifts are dropped at the Peterson AFB Chapel and gathered for distribution. The program is anonymous for recipients and givers, with only chapel staff knowing some information to assure the right gift gets to the intended child.
“We have an ‘everybody policy,’” said Tech. Sgt. Megan Stuart, NCO in charge of chapel operations. “Whether they are active duty, reserve, civilians, or contractors — pretty much anyone who has access to Peterson can participate.”
Last year was a fantastic year for the program, Stuart said. More than 300 angels were put out and each gift was purchased. The popularity of the program means that angels with an individual gift listed can be hung on the trees, instead of angels with a list of requests where only one of the gifts is given.
“We have so many people who want to buy things, we figured we would give them all an opportunity,” Stuart said.
Gift requests are submitted in a couple of ways. Information can be given to a squadron’s first sergeant, or provided to the chapel directly. The first sergeants give the names to chapel staff and the requests are placed onto the back of the angels. To preserve anonymity, a number is assigned to each recipient and applied to the angel with their request on it. Name, gender, age, wants, needs and sizes, as needed, are required with each submission.
Stuart said gifts can be dropped at the chapel, or in the designated collection boxes by the trees. After Dec. 12, the gifts, along with wrapping paper and ribbon, are given to the appropriate first sergeant to hand out.
With a variety of children involved, the types of gifts requested include many different things. Stuart said there are still some commonly requested items.
“Clothing is always a big deal and Legos are always popular,” said Stuart. “Gift cards, arts and crafts, and sometimes tech items or video games (are requested).”
Angel trees on Peterson AFB are located at the chapel, base exchange, fitness center, 21st Mission Support Group headquarters in building 350, Air Force Space Command headquarters, and North American Aerospace Defense Command/ U.S. Northern Command headquarters.
For more information, contact Stuart or Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Matthew Boarts at (719) 556-4442.