Thanksgiving support for Airmen

Master Sgt. James Taylor and Master Sgt. Kyle Fenimore, 30th Logistics Readiness Squadron First Sergeants, prepare turkey baskets for Airmen as part of Vandenberg’s First Sergeant's Council annual Turkey Basket Drive, Nov. 18, 2016, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The Turkey Basket Drive is a nonprofit organization dedicated to provide a Thanksgiving meal to Vandenberg families in need. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kyla Gifford/Released)

Master Sgt. James Taylor and Master Sgt. Kyle Fenimore, 30th Logistics Readiness Squadron First Sergeants, prepare turkey baskets for Airmen as part of Vandenberg’s First Sergeant's Council annual Turkey Basket Drive, Nov. 18, 2016, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The Turkey Basket Drive is a nonprofit organization dedicated to provide a Thanksgiving meal to Vandenberg families in need. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kyla Gifford/Released)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

Thanksgiving is almost upon us, and while many families are excitedly planning their turkey dinner, some may be unsure if it will fit within their budget.

Thankfully, Vandenberg’s First Sergeant's Council, a nonprofit organization, facilitates an annual Turkey Basket Drive dedicated to providing a Thanksgiving meal to Team V families in need.

“The Turkey Basket Drive allows first sergeants to provide a nice Thanksgiving dinner and some financial relief during the holidays,” said Master Sgt. Stephen Garrison, 614th Air and Space Communication Squadron First Sergeant. “Each basket given includes a roasting tray, turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, cranberry sauce, corn, green beans, yams and dessert.”

A month prior to Thanksgiving, Vandenberg’s first sergeants begin collecting donations at the base commissary to pay for the supplies needed to create the baskets, and each basket is decorated by children at the Child Development Center. This year there was an impressive $3,300 raised in donations and 182 turkey baskets prepared.

“We typically like to give these baskets to younger Airmen with families or to families who support a large number of individuals for Thanksgiving,” said Garrison. “For example, if a supervisor has invited multiple Airmen over for dinner, we are happy to assist. The holidays can be stressful and money is tight; a little help can go a long way.”

The Airmen who are scheduled to receive these baskets have no idea that they are coming. Every first sergeant on base determines which Airmen would benefit most from the donation, and then contacts them a week prior to the holidays.

“I was pleasantly surprised to find out I was receiving a turkey basket this year,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Ortiz, 30th Comptroller Squadron NCOIC of financial services. “It’s really nice the first sergeants are doing this for military members. This will really help my family because it’s less we have to worry about paying for during the holidays.”

Although the first sergeants do most of the leg work, the Turkey Basket Drive would not be such a success without the generous donations from the Vandenberg Thrift Shop and base members each year.

“The base community support for this event has been tremendous, we could not do it without their help and donations,” said Garrison. “I know each and every first sergeant would like to say ‘thank you’ for the continued support.”