By Airman 1st Class Sergio A. Gamboa, 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 24, 2014
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The holidays are a time of giving. Some families don't have the luxury of getting gifts, but for one Panama City family, a kind gesture from complete strangers helped in many ways.
Members of the 325th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron holiday party committee had plenty left to give after their holiday party, so that is what they did.
"We were fortunate to have outstanding support from many community sponsors," said Master Sgt. Dontrel Daniels, 325th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron production superintendent. "That put us over the mark to make our holiday party happen. At the same time it allowed us the opportunity to return the favor and give back to the community and to thank them for their donations and helping us celebrate during the holiday season."
Instead of saving the funds that were left over for their next holiday party, Staff Sgt. Gary Stewart, 95th Aircraft Maintenance Unit weapons load crew chief, had a grand idea in returning it back to the community is some way. His idea was to adopt a family.
"There were a lot of families in similar situations, but my thought was that if we could at least help out one family we should," said Stewart. "All I wanted to do was give them some type of Christmas."
Daniels wife Christina, a key spouse and local realtor for Keller Williams, reached out to her many contacts in the local community and helped find a family to provide holiday cheer.
They came across a family of six whose home was recently lost in a fire.
"As soon as we heard what happened to her and her children we knew that we were going to help out as best we could," Stewart said.
With the funds leftover, they went and bought gifts for all the children, put the remainder on a gift card and gave it to the single mother.
Both Daniels and Stewart families, accompanied by members of their holiday party committee delivered a tree and gifts to the family.
"The children didn't understand what was going on at first," said Daniels. "We brought in a tree, decorated it and then started bringing in loads of gifts. One of the best moments was when we were about finished. The unprovoked four and seven-year-old ran up to me, hugged my legs and said 'thank you.' The innocence of a child made me appreciate that moment."
Words couldn't explain the way we felt at that moment, but it is one of the greatest experiences we have ever had, he said.
"It was fulfilling. It makes me feel good to give, and I like to see people smile. Our goal for next year is to provide for more families in need." said Stewart.
By doing this act of kindness this year, they hope other members at Tyndall see how it can be life-changing and they hope they can inspire others to do something like this next year.
"The holidays aren't all about material things, it's also about family" said Daniels. "Some families aren't as fortunate as others so it is good to slow down, appreciate others and try to make their lives a bit better during the holidays."
The mother of five shared her sentiment.
"I am extremely blessed and thankful for the kind act and everything they have done for us," said Bannisha Greene, recipient of 325th AMXS generosity. "I started crying when they brought the tree and all the gifts to where I am staying. I appreciate everything."