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NEWS | Dec. 12, 2013

Angel Tree program spreads holiday charity at Langley

By Staff Sgt. Wesley Farnsworth 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

More than 350 families will have a special Christmas this year thanks to the Angel Tree program at Langley Air Force Base.

The Angel Tree program, led by the Langley Company Grade Officers Club in partnership with the First Sergeants Council and the Enlisted Spouses Club, provides gifts to Airmen and civilian employees stationed at Langley AFB that may have had a hardship this year which made it difficult to purchase gifts.

With the program now complete and truck loads of gifts having been wrapped, all clubs and families involved are thankful for the support of the Air Force community.

"After we received the names from first sergeants, we placed their information on angels and hung them on a tree just outside the entrance of the Exchange," said U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Jasmine Chapman, CGOC community service chair. "As shoppers entered the Exchange, they were able to select an angel from the tree."

Each angel featured a child's age, sex and gift requests. Shoppers purchased the gifts and turned them into store management, who in turn provided them to the CGOC to be wrapped. From there, the first sergeants arranged delivery of the gifts to the families.

"Each individual was able to buy as many gifts as they want for their individual angel," said Chapman, a native of Hampton. "It's great to know that each child will receive at least one gift this year, even if their parents can't afford to buy them."

Senior Master Sgt. Glendon Schmitz, 10th Intelligence Squadron operations flight chief, is among the many holiday samaritans that provided gifts this year.

"I'm a parent as well, and I know what it's like trying to provide presents for kids," Schmitz said. "I've always seen the Air Force as an extended family, and it's great that we have the chance to help each other."

Chapman echoed Schmitz' sense of family.

"This program fits right in with the wing's 'We are Family' campaign this year," Chapman said. "It's all about us coming together and helping each other out, and taking care of someone else's family."

Chessie Ricks, 2nd Manpower Requirements Squadron management analyst, said she is passing the spirit of giving on to her children.

"Every year I bring my daughter to the Exchange and allow her to select not only the angel but the gifts we will provide for that individual," Ricks said. "Christmas is focused so much on receiving, and utilizing the tree helps them realize there are other kids out there who are less fortunate and we should help them whenever we can."

Ricks said this year her eyes were opened even more when she saw an angel on the tree for an 18-year-old boy.

"When I saw that angel, I realized there is a need for children of all ages, not just the small children that we tend to think about this time of year," Ricks said.

Now that the gifts have been wrapped and delivered across the community, Chapman is already looking forward to next year's campaign.

"This year's turnout has been great," Chapman said. "Next year, we hope to start at the beginning of November to allow everyone more time and flexibility in providing gifts."

For more information about the Angel Tree program, call Chapman at 225-6660.