Christmas came early Wednesday for military families who flocked to VFW Post 10047 on Las Vegas Boulevard across from Nellis Air Force Base.
Santa Claus and helpers from Operation Homefront doled out 500 holiday gift bags filled with items donated by such companies as Walmart, Dole, Eckrich and Chinet to airmen, soldiers, sailors and Marines who came to the post for the Homefront event.
“It’s nice to know people still care,” said Nellis Staff Sgt. Corey Lewis, of Fairfield, Pa., who picked up a gift bag for his wife and two sons, ages 6 and 9. He said the gifts “will really help” make his family’s Christmas bright.
Likewise, Creech Air Force Base Tech Sgt. Mike Rambaran, who brought his 2-year-old daughter, Elle, to see Santa, said the bag full of gifts “means a lot.”
“It’s great to see support from our neighbors and the community. It makes what we’re fighting for even more special,” Rambaran said.
Annie Baca, executive director of Operation Homefront — Nevada, said the nonprofit provides a safety net for military families, not just during the holiday season, but throughout the year.
“We have a lot of wounded warriors,” she said. “Sometimes it takes two years for the them to get their benefits. We provide assistance to bridge the gap.”
Supported by donations from grateful citizens and private businesses, Operation Homefront also provides financial assistance and a variety of services to help alleviate the burden of unexpected emergency situations for families struggling with deployment and housing issues. Its services target military families of junior and mid-grade enlisted personnel, who are among the lowest paid in all branches of the armed forces.
Also Wednesday, with only eight days until Christmas , Post 10047 Commander Tony Marshall and Jody Shervanick, program coordinator, made a last-minute plea to help find about 100 donors from the Las Vegas Valley who can provide gifts for their Adopt A Military Family Program.
“This year we received more young Nellis and Creech families who were part of budget cuts than we had anticipated for the program,” Shervanick said. “So many of them have recently lost their jobs and are looking for help to provide Christmas gifts for their children.”
For information on how to donate go to: http://myvfw.org/nv/post10047/adopt-a-military-family-2014/
“This program is not a hand out,” according to the post’s Website. “It is simply a way for the public to say, ‘thank you.’ We connect military families in need with volunteers wanting to ‘adopt’ a military family. Our goal is to help active duty, guard, and reserve, wounded, fallen and veteran military families of all branches with much needed Christmas presents this holiday season.”
Contact Keith Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0308. Find him on Twitter: @KeithRogers2.