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OKC brings Airmen, community together

30th Space Wing Public Affairs --

Team Vandenberg will host the 58th annual Operation Kids Christmas, here, Dec. 3, at the Pacific Coast Club.

Since the program's conception in 1959, the Operation Kids Christmas committee has been providing children a wide range of recreational activities and gifts for the holidays.

“Operation Big Brother was founded by Mike Petlansky in 1959 to provide an unforgettable holiday party for 100 of the neediest children in the local area,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Johnson, 532nd Training Squadron instructor. “Today the program continues strong, now known as Operation Kids Christmas, this event provides Christmas to local underprivileged kids who would not have had one otherwise.”  

More than 200 children, from Lompoc, Santa Maria, Santa Ynez and VAFB, are expected at the event this year.

“We will ensure a festive holiday season in the form of a party to include, a personal military escort, lunch, Santa's Elves, music, and a visit from Santa Claus,” said Johnson. “Each child is given a gift bag with wrapped toys and a backpack full of crayons, stickers, school supplies and more. Additionally, the families will be provided a food box containing everything they need for a holiday dinner.”

Volunteers involved with this event include military, civilians, contractors, dependents and members of the local community.

 

“Last year was my first year volunteering for Operation Kids Christmas and I'm already signed up for this year’s event,” said Senior Airman Jessica Munoz, 30th Space Wing command support staff. “I think I had just as much, if not more fun than the children did. It's really the best feeling putting a smile on a kid’s face. Children already seem to look at people who wear the uniform with such admiration and when they see us taking time to spend with them I think it makes them feel special, and all children deserve to feel special.”

 

Individuals interested, can volunteer for a variety of positions to include escorts, Spanish speaking escorts, set-up and tear-down assistants, individuals to dress-up as elves, gift wrap assistants and general laborers. 

“OKC is an opportunity to give back to our community and help those in need,” said Johnson. “Those who have volunteered in the past come back every year because of this upmost gratification. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the absolute joy in the children's eyes and letting the families know that they will be taken care of during the holidays.”

To volunteer for this event please contact Staff Sgt. Michael Johnson at 805-605-2592 or Tech. Sgt. Cederic Hill at 805-606-1541 ext. 3248.