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Guardmembers supporting Baltimore families

Tech. Sgt. Ashley Mooney, functional systems manager with the 175th Logistics Readiness Squadron, stands with one of many gifts for the Angel Tree. Maryland Air National Guard members contributed to a Salvation Army program to help less fortunate families. (National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. David Speicher)

Tech. Sgt. Ashley Mooney, functional systems manager with the 175th Logistics Readiness Squadron, stands with one of many gifts for the Angel Tree. Maryland Air National Guard members contributed to a Salvation Army program to help less fortunate families. (National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. David Speicher)

BALTIMORE -- For the second year in a row, Maryland Air National Guardsmen contributed to the Salvation Army program supporting less fortunate families in Baltimore during the holiday season.

The program includes an Angel Tree, Thanksgiving baskets, Christmas stockings and adopting families for holiday gifts.

Tech. Sgt. Ashley Mooney, functional system manager with the 175th Logistics Readiness Squadron, organized the effort at Warfield Air National Guard base.

In November, four Baltimore families received Thanksgiving baskets that included all food items for the feast.

After the baskets went out, the Airmen were encouraged to participate in the Christmas programs. "Angels are for children that live in poverty and the parents submit a list of what the children would like for Christmas," said Mooney. This year the base helped 10 more children than last year for a total of 45.

"Whoever gets the angel, it is recommended that they get most everything on the list because whatever the service member gives is all that child will receive for Christmas."

A new addition to the program this year is Christmas stockings - little red mesh stockings that have toothbrushes, socks and necessities. Some members also threw in extras, like toys. Moore said 16 stockings will go out to families. "I put these out there because people wanted to do more."

The Wing also adopted eight children between two families to provide their Christmas gifts.

Those children, along with two of the Thanksgiving baskets and ten stockings were taken care of by the 135th Aircraft Maintenance and Operations Squadrons.

Master Sgt. Carrie L. Vien, maintenance production management, 135th Maintenance Operation Flight and Tech. Sgt. Monique Harris, aviation resource management, 135th Airlift Squadron organized their unit's efforts.

"We (operations squadron) raised $500 for Christmas gifts and almost $200 for Thanksgiving," said Harris. The maintenance squadron raised about $900 for the two holidays plus additional gifts.

Vien said, "I try to do something volunteer wise every year. Last year I adopted one child myself." This year she wanted to do more and organized fellow squadron members. "I do it because I want to give back to the community. A lot of people don't know how. This is a nice way for the base to come together and give back to the community. I feel this project was able to lift the spirits and morale (of the squadron)."

"People crawled out of the woodwork to help with money and gifts. I had four people here in maintenance being like little Santa's helpers," said Vien. They went to the four buildings that maintenance personnel work in to rally support for the program.

During Saturday of the November unit training assembly they got the word out about donations. By Sunday, the box was full.

Harris talked about why she got involved. "I'm a giving person. It is in my nature. I like doing stuff like this - it gives me a warm fuzzy. People are going above and beyond to make sure these kids have a nice holiday."

"How would I feel if I was one of those children?" she questioned.

Last year Airmen from the 175th Wing were part of this Salvation Army program that helped 7,920 men, women and children. This year's gifts will be staged at the Salvation Army to be delivered the week before Christmas. And Vien is excited to continue giving again next year.

Vien summed up the program of Airmen giving back to the Baltimore community, "It is for people who wouldn't have a nice Christmas or no Thanksgiving at all."