509th LRS, Big Brothers Big Sisters partner to keep kids in school during COVID-19

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Alexandria Lee
  • 509th Bomb Wing
At the beginning of the school year, the 509th Logistics Readiness Squadron partnered with a local charity to provide low-income families with laptops, books, and printers to help continue their virtual learning.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kurtis Chase, 509th Logistics Readiness Squadron fire truck and refueling maintenance section chief, and fellow team members worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Johnson County to fundraise equipment to help approximately 20 students continue their online education.

The idea came about when Chase spoke to his sister one day concerning financial struggles some families had due to COVID-19. They discussed how some families relied on the public school system and were unsure how they could continue their children’s education if they lost their jobs. They decided to help.

Chase gathered his team to figure out a plan and created a fundraiser through BBBS—a non-profit organization whose mission is to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth.

“I’ve worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters in the past as a volunteer Big,” said Chase. “Back then, we focused on back-to-school parties where we donated to the students who attended. So planning this event wasn’t too different for me.”

Dana Phelps, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Johnson County executive director, provided the team with all the information they needed from surveying the students’ needs and connected them with the students and their families.

“We did surveys with all the children we have in our program in Johnson County and saw a need in 20 families,” said Phelps. “Those families were most in need of continuing at home education from computer equipment to internet bills being covered.”

The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Johnson County has more than 30 children in the program. The children all come from non-traditional homes, either raised by single parents or their grandparents.

The goal for the fundraiser was to provide the families with laptops, printers, and cover some of their internet services. The group raised more than $400 and procured three laptops, and two printers so far.

“From the moment the phone calls were made to the families to tell them what they received, the stress relief was immediate,” said Phelps. “The families were very grateful to the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and Chase for creating this fundraiser. There was such a relief knowing that they would be able to provide for their children.”

The fundraiser not only benefited the local families but all parties involved.

“I feel like the team benefited greatly from this as a whole,” said Chase. “It brought us together and allowed us to do something that benefits others and not just ourselves. I feel like a lot of individuals feel that they are in constant competition with their peers and this shows how we can do great things together.”

The team has set up multiple ways for donations to be received. Direct donations can be made straight to the team or Dana Phelps at BBBS. They also set up an online fundraiser and a raffle. Those interested can contact Chase directly at kurtis.chase@us.af.mil.

“The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Johnson County are in the business of connecting and building relationships, that’s what we do,” said Phelps. “We’re here to give the tools to anyone that wants to chip in; we are super grateful for anyone that helps. The Airmen that have helped to do this have gone above and beyond.”