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Airmen and community team up to support deployed troops

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot
  • 185th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
"We had a dilemma," said Mr. Gary Schmidt who works as 185th Air Refueling Wing Family programs manager. Schmidt was referring to the growing stack of care packages in the hallway outside of his office. Then, "out of the blue" he said, he got the phone call.
Terri Porter from the Northwest Area Education Agency in Sioux City, Iowa, wanted to know if she could come to the Sioux City Air Guard unit in order to present a check for $830. Porter told Schmidt that the Air Guard Family Programs Office could use the donated money to ship care packages to unit members who are deployed overseas.
The 185th Family Programs Office had already received care packages that had been packed by the Le Mars, Iowa, High School Student Council and packages from employees of the Premiere Bank Card Agency located in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota. Finding a way to ship the packages however presented a problem. At a cost of $17 dollars per package and no budget, Schmidt was presented with an $1100 problem.
The check that was delivered to the unit this week was collected by employees of the Northwest AEA as part of a grant program initiated inside the agency for the purpose of community service. Another $300 was also donated by a benefactor at Security National Bank in Sioux City. All totaled, Schmidt said he had enough to ship all the packages with $2 to spare.
"This is like a Christmas miracle!" Schmidt said. "I had packages but I didn’t have postage. I had no idea this was going to happen and it was all completely unsolicited."
Schmidt explained that while donated care packages are appreciated, there can be difficulties in the details – such as how to get the donated items into the hands of people for whom they are intended. The wing Family Programs Office does not have budgeted money for shipping care packages, so the timing and the money from the AEA was perfect. With a little help, the care packages were taken to the post office this week, with hopes of a Christmas delivery.
Schmidt was thrilled to be able to ship the Christmas packages this week. He noted that he also tries to find out about the needs of deployed Airmen throughout the year. As he receives additional donated items or cash he plans to purchase and ship items as needs arise and as resources are available