VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE -- Team Vandenberg is scheduled to host the 59th annual Operation Kids Christmas at the Pacific Coast Club, Dec. 1, 2018 here.
Outside of providing a safe range, following tradition, Vandenberg Airman also ensure that children from Lompoc, Santa Maria, and Santa Ynez get the Christmas they deserve.
“Operation Big Brother was founded by Mike Petlansky in 1959 to provide an unforgettable holiday party for 200, in need, children in the local area,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael Johnson, 532nd Training Squadron missile maintenance instructor “Today the program is now known as Operation Kids Christmas. This event provides Christmas to 200 local underprivileged kids who would not have had one otherwise.”
To do so, Johnson and the other primary planners have a few events in mind.
“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.”
Now a few years in, the 381st Training Squadron needs some help to make all of these events happen.
“This is a wing wide event, however, for the longest time the 381st has been running the event as far as the fundraising committee,” said Captain Christian White, 532nd ICBM Initial skills training instructor. “We depended a lot on the donations from local organizations but we are no longer receiving these donations; a major bulk of our funds. The hardest part is getting more people involved throughout the year when fundraising is the most important. The program as we know it is at risk of no longer happening due to the dwindling funds. We will have to rethink the event and use some creativity to continue this tradition.”
Donations are much appreciated but there are other ways to give back as well. 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.”
For more information, or volunteer opportunities, please reach out to TSgt. Johnson and Captain White.