Operation Giving Spirit
By Senior Master Sergeant Eric Peterson, 120th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 08, 2013
Great Falls, Mont -- Needy Montana Air National Guard families may have more food on their tables during the coming holiday season, thanks to "Operation Giving Spirit," which officially kicked off Oct. 15.
The annual food drive is organized by the MTANG Chief's Council and Family Readiness Program and is intended to assist Guard families that are experiencing financial hardships.
Unit members are encouraged to submit names of Guardsmen that would benefit from the program to 120th Fighter Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. Tim Huffman, or Family Readiness Support Assistant Staff Sgt. Paige Held.
Forms to nominate a Guard member for assistance have been emailed to all unit personnel or are available at the Family Readiness Program office.
Chief Huffman says unit members need to watch for signals that their fellow Guardsmen are experiencing financial difficulties with their family life. A Guardsman may be more open about a personal problem with their peers than with their supervisor.
It's so important to serve as a wingman," said Chief Huffman. "It's okay to let us know if someone is aware of a coworker that is suffering or in need of help."
There are two ways that MTANG members can participate in the program. They can donate money to the "Operation Giving Spirit" fund set up at the Russell Country Federal Credit Union, or non-perishable food can be placed in any of the "Operation Giving Spirit" donation bins located on base.
The canned food will be distributed to families living near Great Falls and those living in distant Montana communities will receive gift certificates to purchase groceries in their local stores.
Fresh turkeys will also be purchased using the donated funds and placed in the food boxes to be delivered to local Guard families.
Chief Huffman estimates that the program assists between 15 and 25 Guard families located throughout the state of Montana each year.
He says the recent government shutdown and the lagging economy may result in additional need, but ample donations will be collected regardless of the number of names submitted.
"That's our job," said Chief Huffman. "Our job is to take care of our Guardsmen and our neighbors, that's what we're here for."
On Dec. 20 members of the Chief's Council will collect all of the donation bins, sort the food equally and build food boxes to be delivered to the needy families. The recipient's names and addresses will be provided only to the members of the Chief's Council that are delivering the food.
Held considers the "Operation Giving Spirit" program additional proof that MTANG truly is a family organization that takes care of its people.
"Outside of the military someone can be seen as just an employee, whereas here we really care about our Guardsmen," said Held. If they are hurting, we don't want them to suffer."
For more information on participating in the annual "Operation Giving Spirit" food donation program, please contact the Family Readiness Program Office at 791-0122.