Reservists lend 'helping hand' to families in need

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Phyllis Keith
  • 624th Regional Support Group Public Affairs
Six reservists with the 624th Regional Support Group spearheaded a fundraiser to provide gifts for two Honolulu families in need this holiday season as part of Helping Hands Hawaii's Adopt a Family Program.

Master Sgt. Danny Thomas, a ramp supervisor with the 48th Aerial Port Squadron, suggested the project at a Human Resources Development Council meeting here in November. He contacted Helping Hands, a non-profit organization, and arranged for the 624th RSG's three Hickam Field squadrons and group staff to fulfill the holiday wish lists of two local families.

During the December unit training assembly, Thomas and team of five HRDC members solicited donations from their respective units, collecting close to $1000.

The 48th APS and the 624th Civil Engineering Squadron adopted a single working mother with two children diagnosed with cerebral palsy since birth. The 624th Aeromedical Staging Squadron and the 624th RSG group staff's adopted family was also a single mother in her 20's who had recently left an abusive relationship and was starting over. Both mothers requested household items for themselves, and toys and clothes for their young children.

The head of HRDC and superintendent of military personnel with the 624th RSG, Senior Master Sgt. Jason Holguin, said, "Our goal was once we had raised enough funds we would go out and purchase as many of the gifts we could that were on their wish list so they could have them in time for Christmas."

Thomas, representing the 48th APS, and Tech. Sgt. Suzanne Calimpong, an engineering assistant with the 624th CES, delivered the gifts to the Helping Hands warehouse, Friday, Dec. 19. The clerks put the gifts into plastic bags to conceal the presents so the children would be surprised to discover them Christmas morning.

Calimpong said it was satisfying to prepare the gifts knowing that items such as sheets for a bed or a Spiderman toy for a child were going to a specific family whose income was limited to paying for rent, utilities and food, making Christmas a luxury to celebrate.

Holguin along with Master Sgt. Josephine Taitague, chief of education and training with the 624th RSG, and Senior Airman Demi Bowers, a knowledge management craftsman with the 624th RSG, teamed up with Tech. Sgt. Miriam Berg, a lab technician with the 624th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, to shop and deliver their adopted family's gifts to Helping Hands, Friday, Dec. 19.

"We were happy to be able to shop for someone else instead of ourselves, making sure they had everything they needed to make their Christmas special," said Bowers.

Holguin said he and his team were able to buy a tricycle, toy cars and trucks, building blocks, pajamas, shirts, shorts, and socks for the 20-month-old boy; and a microwave, crockpot, rice cooker, pots and pans, kitchen utensils and pot and pan holders for the mother.

Each of the HRDC representatives agreed it was a rewarding experience because it was so personal. Thomas said that next year HRDC plans to get an earlier start on the project in order to be able to support four families instead of just two.

HRDC serves to assist in the personal and professional development of Airmen through outreach activities that introduce them to community organizations like Helping Hands.