Holiday giving includes good cheer from Guard

A parade and a holiday dance this week in St. Joseph, Mo., got Airmen at the 139th Airlift Wing, Missouri Air National Guard into the holiday spirit with a shared goal of helping others through laughter and giving.

The police escorted a 139th Airlift Wing fire truck and tow truck Dec. 10 in a holiday parade that included Army Reserve Humvees. They paraded down Noyes Blvd. with city vehicles and those of local businesses. The emergency vehicles turned on their lights and sirens. The cars honked their horns.

Their destination was the Noyes Home for children for a holiday party.

What began as a gift card to a good cause by the Chiefs’ Association is now a Wing-wide volunteer donation drive, followed by shopping, gift wrapping, parading and a pizza party for the children.

Many citizen-Airmen here participated in or supported the event.

“It’s their Christmas for the Year,” Senior Master Sgt. Susan McGarry. “It’s fantastic! They can hear the sirens coming from a ways away.”

The extreme cold kept the kids from standing outside, so they listened and watched through windows this year. They crowded the front staircase at the door when Santa and his reindeer came knocking.

The Wing raised more than $1,000 in donations from its members for the children during the December drill weekend.

The Wing also helped spread that same holiday spirit Dec. 11 at Specialty Industries, which is a local nonprofit that employees special-needs adults.

“Christmas is not all Christmas for us until you are here,” said Gloria Thomas, a Specialty Industries manager.

Nearly two dozen Guard members from across the Wing delivered and served a holiday lunch with desserts at the factory for more than 100 special needs employees. They shared laughs and stayed for an afternoon dance.

“Everyone always pitches in and helps make it happen,” said Master Sgt. Karla Lewis. “Not only the 139th Airlift Wing members but their families and our retired members are the best people in the world and truly know the meaning of Christmas!!!”

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