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ALS class collects food donations for local veterans, homeless shelters

Airman stands with donated goods

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Stephen Kakascik, 415th Aircraft Maintenance Unit C-130 crew chief, poses for a photo in front of the Airman Leadership School (ALS) building on Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, June 1, 2020. Sgt. Kakascik was the volunteer coordinator for his ALS class and, with the help of his classmates, collected nearly 800 cans for the Veterans Integration Center and the Joy Junction homeless shelter.

Airman unpacks boxes of donations

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Stephen Kakascik, 415th Aircraft Maintenance Unit C-130 crew chief, unpacks boxes of donations at the Veterans Integration Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, June 1, 2020. Sgt. Kakascik was the volunteer coordinator for his Airman Leadership School class and collected nearly 800 cans for the Veterans Integration Center and the Joy Junction homeless shelter.

Airman unpacks boxes of donations

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Stephen Kakascik, 415th Aircraft Maintenance Unit C-130 crew chief, unpacks boxes of donations at the Veterans Integration Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, June 1, 2020. Sgt. Kakascik was the volunteer coordinator for his Airman Leadership School class and collected nearly 800 cans for the Veterans Integration Center and the Joy Junction homeless shelter.

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --

Although COVID-19 may have limited volunteer options due to social distancing guidelines and restrictions within the community, students and instructors of the most recent class of Airman Leadership School (ALS) still found a way for Airmen to get involved with their community.

Each ALS class is given a list of additional duties for students to choose from.  Among these additional duties is a volunteer coordinator, which consists of leading a volunteer event for the entire class.

“I wanted to get involved with something that would benefit more than just the class itself, so I chose to be the volunteer coordinator,” said Staff Sgt. Stephen Kakascik, 415th Aircraft Maintenance Unit (AMU) C-130 crew chief.  “The instructors usually choose the volunteer opportunity beforehand, and they decided that it would be best to have a canned food drive.”

The instructors and Kakascik decided that food donations received would be given to the Veterans Integration Center as well as the Joy Junction homeless shelter after realizing the connection between the two.

“The VIC actually recommended this specific homeless shelter to donate to,” Kakascik said.  “A lot of veterans who have trouble integrating back into the community also struggle with homelessness.”

As future leaders, ALS students must understand the importance of being involved and how it relates to the Air Force Core Value of Service Before Self. 

“Through ALS, we’re being molded as new leaders in the Air Force,” Kakascik emphasized.  “Serving others is a really important part of leadership and I think that’s why the volunteer coordinator position was created.”

Throughout the six weeks of the course, Kakascik and the rest of the ALS 20-5 students collected nearly 800 cans from the Team Kirtland community.