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Community shares holiday cheer with military families

(Left) Mrs. Anne Pottinger, Fort Worth community leader, and Col. Allen Duckworth (right), 301st Fighter Wing commander, participate in the drive-thru Holidays & Heroes event Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, at U.S. Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas. The annual Holidays & Heroes event, which connects community members and businesses with military families who could use a little extra help during the holiday season, assisted more than 105 families from the Navy, Marines, and Air Force this year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman William Downs)

(Left) Mrs. Anne Pottinger, Fort Worth community leader, and Col. Allen Duckworth (right), 301st Fighter Wing commander, participate in the drive-thru Holidays & Heroes event Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, at U.S. Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas. The annual Holidays & Heroes event, which connects community members and businesses with military families who could use a little extra help during the holiday season, assisted more than 105 families from the Navy, Marines, and Air Force this year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman William Downs)

A group photo of local volunteers, sponsors, and 301st Fighter Wing leadership mark the end of a day of preparation, known as the “Gathering of the gifts” for the annual Holidays & Heroes event, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. Volunteers gathered and organized gifts at a centralized location, then brought them to the base and ensured everything was ready for the drive-thru event held the following day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jeremy Roman)

A group photo of local volunteers, sponsors, and 301st Fighter Wing leadership mark the end of a day of preparation, known as the “Gathering of the gifts” for the annual Holidays & Heroes event, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020 in Westworth Village, Texas. Volunteers gathered and organized gifts at a centralized location, then brought them to the base and ensured everything was ready for the drive-thru event held the following day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jeremy Roman)

Volunteers from a galaxy far, far away  participate in the annual Holidays & Heroes event, which connects community members and businesses with military families who could use a little extra help during the holiday season. This year’s event, held Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, at U.S. Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, assisted more than 100 families from the Navy, Marines, and Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jeremy Roman)

Volunteers from a galaxy far, far away participate in the annual Holidays & Heroes event, which connects community members and businesses with military families who could use a little extra help during the holiday season. This year’s event, held Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, at U.S. Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, assisted more than 100 families from the Navy, Marines, and Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jeremy Roman)

U.S. NAVAL AIR STATION JOINT RESERVE BASE FORT WORTH, Texas --

The 2020 Holidays & Heroes event mixed kindness with holiday cheer for more than 100 military families aboard U.S. Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas.

The sixth annual event, which took place Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, included local volunteers and community sponsors.

Mr. Scott Palomino, 301st Fighter Wing Airman & Family Readiness director, was there to help.

“Holidays & Heroes is such a blessing because they help support our Airmen and their families during one of the most wonderful times of the year,” he said. “However, we all know that Christmas can also be the most stressful time of the year if you are struggling financially, have lost a loved one, or currently deployed and away from your family.”

Due to COVID-19 precautions, the event was drive-thru this year, but that didn’t stop volunteers and organizers from reaching their goal of serving military families.

“Each family left with a trunk/car full of gifts for their kids and spouses to put under their Christmas tree this year,” Palomino said. “We wanted to ensure they were still supported.”

Ms. Kerre Randel Ortegel, along with her husband Bob, originally came up with the idea in 2015 for the Holidays & Heroes event to help local military members stationed near their house at U.S. NAS JRB Fort Worth. She is also an honorary commander for the 301st Fighter Wing Maintenance Group, where the wing pairs local civic leaders with each group or squadron within the wing to help build relationships within the community.

“What’s important is that the base and the community have a relationship with each other and support each other,” she said.

Now, the idea for a party with a purpose has grown into a 501c3 charitable organization and went from serving 39 families then to more than 100 families now by partnering with generous neighbors, sponsors, personal contacts, and local organizations.

301st Fighter Wing Commander Col. Allen Duckworth participated in the event which sponsored multiple wing families.

“I can’t thank the team of Holidays and Heroes enough for putting this event on and taking care of our folks,” he said. “This event is just another example of how awesome a community we have around here … I’ve never seen anything like this anywhere else for any other installation. The Fort Worth area just brings it strong and Holidays and Heroes is just a super example of that."

Military members who received gifts either self-identify or are nominated by others in their chain of command to be sponsored by a local family.

“… I appreciate that our Airmen are willing to raise their hand and say I need a little bit of help right now,” he said. “Because there’s people just waiting to help. When they identify themselves, then those organizations, families and sponsors ... now have the opportunity to help.”

 

**This event was conducted in accordance with CDC and 301 FW commander guidance.**