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167th Airman spreads Christmas cheer through gift giving effort

Members of the 167th Operations Group wrap and organize gifts for children in the tri-county area as part of the Ops Adopts program headed up by First Lt. Ryan Day, a pilot for the 167th Airlift Wing, at far right in photo, in the Operations building at the 167th Airlift Wing, Martinsburg, W.Va., Dec. 15. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Emily Beightol-Deyerle)

Members of the 167th Operations Group wrap and organize gifts for children in the tri-county area as part of the Ops Adopts program headed up by First Lt. Ryan Day, a pilot for the 167th Airlift Wing, at far right in photo, in the Operations building at the 167th Airlift Wing, Martinsburg, W.Va., Dec. 15. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Emily Beightol-Deyerle)

Master Sgt. Charles Moore , a loadmaster for the 167th Operations Group, loads gifts for local students in to his trailer to deliver them to local schools as part of the Ops Adopts program, Dec. 18. The Ops Adopts program was spearheaded by First Lt. Ryan Day, a pilot for the 167th Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Emily Beightol-Deyerle)

Master Sgt. Charles Moore , a loadmaster for the 167th Operations Group, loads gifts for local students in to his trailer to deliver them to local schools as part of the Ops Adopts program, Dec. 18. The Ops Adopts program was spearheaded by First Lt. Ryan Day, a pilot for the 167th Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Emily Beightol-Deyerle)

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A pilot for the 167th Operations Group spearheaded a Christmas gift drive for students in the tri-county area.

What started as a small gesture to help a family in need at his children’s school blossomed into the Ops Adopts program which collected gifts for 76 children.

First Lt. Ryan Day spoke with an administrator at C. W. Shipley School in Jefferson County, West Virginia, and learned that a local business that had provided gifts for students at the school in the past would not be able to provide as much this year.

He saw an opportunity to help his community and enlisted the support of his fellow Airmen in the Operations Group.

He decided to expand the program to schools in all three Eastern Panhandle counties.

Senior Airman Kathryn Demory and Chief Master Sgt. Roland Shambaugh assisted Day, working with schools in Berkeley County and Morgan County, respectively.

Day, Demory and Shambaugh received lists from the schools with chilĀ­dren’s first names, ages, clothing sizes, items needed and items wanted.

Day said he began spreading the word about Ops Adopts to the members of the Operations Group last September asking for donations of gifts, money or time.

Day’s wife, Master Sgt. Jennifer Day, a medical technician for the 167th Medical Group, rallied her co-workers too.

“Between the Operations and Medical Groups, we provided gifts for 76 children from 24 families. We were also able to provide Christmas dinners with canned goods, breads, hams and turkeys for 10 families,” Day said.

The Ops Adopts program provided gifts for every child on the lists received from the schools.

“The response was overwhelmingly positive,” Day said. “I’d like to thank everyone who helped out.”

Day said he plans to expand the program next year

“Most people in the squadron and in the unit want to get involved and help people in the community. With all of the bad stuff going on out there, this is someĀ­thing really positive we can contribute,” Day said.

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