445th Airmen support local children through toy drives

  • Published
  • By Capt. Rachel Ingram
  • 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Throughout the holiday season, squadrons across the 445th Airlift Wing banded together to bring a little extra Christmas cheer to local children. The 445th campus served as a collection hub for new toys, clothing, gift cards, school supplies and more with wishlists and drop off points coordinated through three specific programs this year: Angel Tree, Dayton Children’s Hospital toy drive and Toys for Tots.

The Military and Family Readiness center hosted its annual Angel Tree in their office, and a total of 46 children received toys from their wishlists through the program.

Each angel placed on the tree in the M&FR center is the child of a currently serving 445th member, according to Ms. Shanna King, 445th Military and Family Readiness director. Each squadron’s first sergeant plays an integral role in connecting the donated gifts with the families who requested them.

“Only the center staff and first sergeants know which families have angels on the tree,” King explained. “The people who come and take a wishlist and adopt the angel only know that it represents a family here in the wing. They have no clue who, specifically, those gifts are going to.”

About 30 people from squadrons across the wing contributed to Angel Tree this year, directly impacting dozens of other families in the 445th AW.

The M&FR center accepted applications during the October and November unit training assemblies, with volunteers beginning to pick up wishlists at the end of the November UTA.

“By Thanksgiving, all the angels were adopted,” she said.

Adoptees returned the new, wrapped gifts to the M&FR Center by Saturday of the December UTA, so first sergeants could discreetly hand out the gifts to participating members before they departed for home.

On the other side of the flight line, the 87th Aerial Port Squadron collected more than $2,500 in gifts this year for children currently receiving care at Dayton Children’s Hospital. In its 38th year, the squadron’s toy drive typically generated about $1,000 in toys and $1,500 in monetary donations. Squadron members delivered the gifts to the hospital, Dec. 9, 2022.

The final toy drive hosted within the wing, Toys for Tots, benefited children around the greater Dayton community. In partnership with the 88th Air Base Wing, donation boxes popped up across the base, including eight placed on the 445th campus by Master Sgt. Holly Maser, 445th Security Forces Squadron first sergeant.

“Every donation makes a difference,” Maser emphasized. “Just one toy is one additional child who is getting a gift this year.”

Once the collection period ended, those items were handed off to Marines who coordinated their distribution in Ohio.

“We are such a large wing. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to help fulfill these little dreams for kids at Christmas,” Maser said.