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Special Delivery: Whiteman families receive holiday help with preparing Thanksgiving feast

WHITEMAN AFB, Mo -- Thanksgiving is traditionally a time for families to come together, enjoy a meal and create memories.

Not all families are able to prepare a bountiful dinner due to financial or personal hardships. That's where the Whiteman Thanksgiving Food Baskets Program comes in.

The food basket program helps of the 509th Bomb Wing and their families to make their holidays better by providing essentials for Thanksgiving, said 2nd Lt. Troy Huber, 509th Logistics Readiness Squadron and the alternate chairman of this year's food basket program. Each food basket consists of a turkey and a variety of canned foods and side dishes.

Squadron first sergeants are asked to identify Airmen and families that may need some help during the holiday season, Lieutenant Huber said. Those identified are only known by their first sergeant in order to keep the program anonymous.

The food basket program originally began as an internal program for LRS, but has now expanded to the entire base, said Lieutenant Huber.

"Our goal is to make sure each family has a good Thanksgiving dinner," Lieutenant Huber said.

Each year near the end of September, volunteers for the Whiteman Thanksgiving Food Baskets Program collect non-perishable foods from the base community. Program coordinators also ask for volunteers from base squadrons to help with the program by either collecting food within their squadron or to help separate and pack food items into baskets. Several base organizations also give monetary donations.

This year, volunteers began sorting through non-perishable goods Saturday at the traffic management warehouse. More than 50 volunteers, including children, spent about two hours taping boxes, sorting food and then packing the food into boxes, each containing items worth an average of $45 and weighing about 35 lbs.

The boxes were then set aside to await the final food items, frozen turkeys and pies purchased from the base commissary, which were bought and packed Monday morning prior to delivery.

"The military family is great," said Col. (Ret.) John Riffle, president of the Military Officer Association of America Spirit Chapter. Seeing the members of Whiteman Air Force Base, their families and even their children coming out to help their fellow Airmen is a wonderful thing, he added.
Deployments, unplanned expenses and family emergencies are just some of the reasons a family may require assistance during the holiday season, Lieutenant Huber said.

The program is not intended to assist single Airmen living in the dorms, as they are able to eat in the base dining facility, Lieutenant Huber added.
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The Whiteman Thanksgiving Food Baskets Program delivered 189 food baskets to Whiteman families, said 2nd Lt. Robert Fekete, 509th LRS and the chairman of this year's program.

In addition to assisting families on base, the program donated 10 full meals to the Show-me Christian Youth Home in LaMonte, which houses more than 80 children.

No matter the reason, financial or personal hardship, the Whiteman Thanksgiving Food
Baskets Program is here to help families have a wonderful Thanksgiving.