KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
The 377th Mission Support Group Fire Department hosted the 42nd annual Operation Holiday Cheer event Dec. 18, 2019 at Fire Station Two to provide Albuquerque, New Mexico, families in need with a holiday meal.
Team Kirtland has kept the tradition alive since 1978.
In addition to the holiday meal, this year’s event included activities, caroling, a meeting with Santa and gifts for the children.
“It’s all done by the fire department,” said Joseph Pellish, 377th MSG deputy director. “They get donations and provide all the labor.”
Buses are sent out to pick up community members and bring them onto base. This event could provide families with their only hot meal for the holidays and children with their only present, according to Pellish.
Volunteers from across base coordinate together to bring in nearly 400 families, feeding about 1,200 people.
“It’s one of my favorite events of the year,” said Meredithe Sweeney, co-director of the event. “It’s such a sweet way to be able to reach a broad portion of the [Albuquerque] community and Kirtland community so that we can all come together and kick off the holidays.”
During the event, Santa arrived by fire truck and surprised the children.
“About 800 children receive gifts,” said Sweeney. “It’s a special event.”
Jana Dozier, an attendee, participated in the event for the first time with her husband and two children.
“Thank you for all the little things and giving that little bit of your time,” said Dozier. “That little bit from you means so much to us, because to us it’s not little. It’s a lot.”