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Monday, December 21, 2015

Spreading the Holiday Spirit to Military Families

Story by Bill Fortune

(L to R) Brig.Gen. Don Laucirica, Zoey Stealey, James Griffith,
 Suzanne Buemi and Isabella share a moment with Santa
 at the CoNG 8th annual Santa’s workshop. 
Photo by Arnett Luce/American Red Cross.
The Red Cross Service to Armed Forces (SAF) program has a century long history of supporting our nation’s military in peace time and in war. Our emergency communications service handles hundreds of contacts every day across the country and around the world in an effort to keep military members and their families connected.

During the holiday season our service continues and it takes on an additional opportunity to support the military families directly. SAF teams of staff and volunteers helped out at local holiday events on military installations around the state in an effort to spread some holiday spirit and to make sure that the children of our service members had something under the Christmas tree this year.

Volunteer Job Ojo hands a beanbag to Matthew Glidden at the
Schriever AFB Children's Fest. Photo by Joe Coleman/
American Red Cross
December 4 found our teams at Peterson AFB in Colorado Springs for the annual tree lighting ceremony and at Schriever AFB the next day helping at the Children’s Holiday Fun Fest. These events get our military families together to celebrate the holidays and take a break from the hustle and bustle of the season. Our volunteers were on hand to play games with the children and provide a little extra fun time while parents went "shopping".

December 12 found our teams in Grand Junction, Centennial and Colorado Springs supporting Santa Workshops for the Colorado National Guard members and their families. These well attended events offer an opportunity for service members and families to do some Christmas shopping. Free gifts were made available through community partners to make it easier for families to have presents under the tree. “This was the eighth year for the Santa’s Workshop for the Colorado National Guard,” said Suzanne Buemi who helped coordinate the event in Colorado Springs. “Service members are able to come to this event to get gifts so that their kids can have toys under the tree.” Santa was also at the event along with books and activities for the kids to do while the parents checked out the gifts.
Volunteers Rick Crabtree(L) and Julie Justus with Exec Dir
Eric Myers at the Santa Workshop in Grand Junction.
Photo by American Red Cross

At all of the events across Colorado, The Red Cross SAF teams wrapped presents and provided Red Cross first aid kits and emergency kits to give as gifts. James Griffith is an SAF volunteer and helps with these events every year. “This is one of my favorites SAF activities,” He said. “We do a lot of things for our service members and their families but this one really gets me into the giving spirit.”

Our service to Armed Forces program has helped service members, veterans and families for over 100 years. You can be part of that tradition by going to our website www.redcross.org/colorado and clicking on Volunteer.

Happy Holidays to all of those who are serving our country, our veterans and their families.

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