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OKC provides memorable holiday experience for local children

Children from local communities are greeted by Team V members during the 58th annual Operations Kids Christmas, Dec. 2, 2016, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Since its inception in the 1950s, OKC has been an opportunity for uniformed members to give back to the community and provide children a day full of games, gifts, and recreational activities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Robert J. Volio/Released)

Children from local communities are greeted by Team V members during the 58th annual Operations Kids Christmas, Dec. 2, 2016, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Since its inception in the 1950s, OKC has been an opportunity for uniformed members to give back to the community and provide children a day full of games, gifts, and recreational activities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Robert J. Volio/Released)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

Team Vandenberg recently hosted children from various local communities during the 58th annual Operation Kids Christmas event, here, Dec. 2 at the Pacific Coast Club.

Since its inception in the 1950s, OKC has been an opportunity for uniformed members to give back to the community and provide children with a day full of games, gifts and recreational activities.

“Operation Kids Christmas is a charity event that started 58 years ago,” said Capt. Daniel Gomez, 532nd Training Squadron instructor and OKC chairman. “It’s a chance for the military to give back to the local communities in Santa Ynez, Santa Maria and Lompoc. It’s all non-profit, so everything you see here was given to us by someone else. During the summer we have our annual Texas Blowout, which is our only fundraiser for OKC. Everything else is charity that other places and people are willing to donate.”

The PCC was transformed to accommodate the children and provide a long-lasting Christmas experience.

“The day was broken down into three parts,” said Gomez. “One room was dedicated to lunch and a Christmas movie for the children; the NCOA was out there serving food to our honored guests. The next station was arts and crafts, where the kids would get their own separate bag with three different kinds of crafts. From there, they went to the game room where there was a whole slew of games available including obstacle courses, dancing with Disney princesses, and running around with Storm Troopers. Each kid gets a backpack that has some basic school supplies in them. On their way out at the end of the day, each child gets a bag that has presents and toys.”

Each child is paired up with an Airman for the day to enjoy the festivities together, making the experience just as memorable for Team V personnel.

“My OKC experience was amazing,” said Senior Airman Nicole Crawford, 30th Comptroller Squadron commander support staff and OKC volunteer. “Seeing all the fun the kids were having showed that they were impacted positively and having a good time. To be able to give back to these local underprivileged kids and ensure they still have a festive and memorable holiday season is a satisfying feeling.”

Despite a sleigh full of logistics and enough meticulous planning to make even Santa’s head spin, the finalized OKC product makes all the hard work worth it for those involved.

“Thank you to all the volunteers and everyone who made OKC possible,” said Staff Sgt. Diane Dayao, 381st Training Support Squadron client systems technician and OKC co-chairman. “The whole process of putting this together is incredibly strenuous, but the smiles on all the children’s faces makes it all worth it. It’s very humbling.”