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State communities support Pa. Air and Army Guard, Army Reserve resiliency with holiday event

Tech. Sgt. Danita Jones, 111th Force Support Squadron human resources technician, greets Santa Claus during a holiday event for military families Dec. 2, 2017, at Horsham Air Guard Station, Pa. Retired Chief Master Sgt. Richard Mertz, formerly a member of the 111th FSS, played Santa for the military children at the event, listening to their wish lists and posing for photos. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

Tech. Sgt. Danita Jones, 111th Force Support Squadron human resources technician, greets Santa Claus during a holiday event for military families Dec. 2, 2017, at Horsham Air Guard Station, Pa. Retired Chief Master Sgt. Richard Mertz, formerly a member of the 111th FSS, played Santa for the military children at the event, listening to their wish lists and posing for photos. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

Premium toys donated by Operation Homefront line the chairs during a Holiday event for military families held Dec. 2, 2017, at Horsham Air Guard Station, Pa. The toys were donated to more than 350 children of military families through regional civilian-military partnership programs. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

Premium toys donated by Operation Homefront line the chairs during a Holiday event for military families held Dec. 2, 2017, at Horsham Air Guard Station, Pa. The toys were donated to more than 350 children of military families through regional civilian-military partnership programs. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

Tech. Sgt. James McKeon, 111th Comptroller Flight financial services technician, peruses gift options for his son during a Holiday event sponsored by military and civilian organizations for military families Dec. 2, 2017, at Horsham Air Guard Station, Pa. The affair included a visit and photos with Santa Claus, premier toy distribution, small gifts, themed music and refreshments. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

Tech. Sgt. James McKeon, 111th Comptroller Flight financial services technician, peruses gift options for his son during a Holiday event sponsored by military and civilian organizations for military families Dec. 2, 2017, at Horsham Air Guard Station, Pa. The affair included a visit and photos with Santa Claus, premier toy distribution, small gifts, themed music and refreshments. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

HORSHAM AIR GUARD STATION, Pa. --

The 111th Attack Wing hosting, civilian organizations within Pennsylvania showcased support for service members and bolstered military resiliency here, Dec. 2.

Operation Homefront, a national organization devoted to military families, along with Friends of the Family Readiness Group (FRG), joined with U.S. Air Force Key Spouse Program volunteers and Wing staff to create a holiday event open to all military families.

“These relationships directly affect morale,” said Anna Richar, 111th ATKW Airman & Family Readiness Center (A&FRC). “Really, the only way we can achieve giving back to our military this extensively is through our ongoing partnerships.”

The toy and tinsel-lined afternoon was made possible by strong community relations and collaborations between military and civilian entities. This alliance of effort results in an uptick of resiliency, especially for the 111th ATKW, which has recently redeployed many members and has others still serving overseas.

The affair included a visit and photos with Santa Claus, premier toy distribution, small gifts, themed music and refreshments.

“When you see all that went into making this happen, you feel that support from the community,” said Tech. Sgt. James McKeon, 111th Comptroller Flight financial services technician. “It’s really about more than toys, it’s knowing that there are organizations – both military and civilian – working together to support and help military families who may be facing stressors this time of year.”

The Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education, Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Ala., discharges Air University's responsibility for the education of enlisted leaders throughout the Air Force. Their Noncommissioned Officer Distance Learning Course asserts that the use of base resources and support activities is critical in Air Force resiliency.

“Airmanship revolves around the morale, health and overall quality of life for our members and their families,” said Capt. Taylor Flach, 111th ATKW executive officer. “We have families here whose loved ones are away as well as members who are undergoing the demands of redeployment. Support activities like this are what help our most valuable assets endure during demanding times. We’re fortunate to have the community to boost endeavors that strengthen our military.” 

McKeon, who joined the Air National Guard after active-duty Air Force service, stated that reserve forces may have an increased opportunity to build bonds within communities, noting the custom of members’ longevity at a single duty location.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this on active-duty [service],” he stated.

More than 350 military children received one of the donated substantial gifts along with handfuls of smaller presents. Approximately 60 military families also left the event with a printed snapshot featuring Father Christmas. All the elements enjoyed by attendees were made possible through a multifaceted approach to military support.

“The Friends of the FRG and A&FRC here go out and build these relationships to spread awareness of our mission and our members,” said Richar, “And, this time of year especially, people enjoy giving back to those who serve. What better way to do that than through the happiness of children?”