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From left, Chief Master Sgt. Steve Dilda, Master Sgt. Andy Denham, Senior Master Sgt. John J. Dunham, Senior Master Sgt. Robert Loftus and Master Sgt. Larry Haynes, hold gifts donated as part of the Angel Tree program.
From left, Chief Master Sgt. Steve Dilda, Master Sgt. Andy Denham, Senior Master Sgt. John J. Dunham, Senior Master Sgt. Robert Loftus and Master Sgt. Larry Haynes, hold gifts donated as part of the Angel Tree program. (Bryan Mitchell / S&S)

RAF MILDENHALL — ‘Tis the season of giving, and airmen from across the United Kingdom have been busy getting in the spirit.

Stars and Stripes was able to track down a few of the people responsible for making the season that much more cheery for the less fortunate and found various groups had collected more than $10,000 this holiday season.

Senior Master Sgt. John J. Dunham, of the 100th Logistics Readiness Squadron, is one of Team Mildenhall’s first sergeants who helped organize the annual Angel Tree giving program.

The success of the program lies in its simplicity. The first sergeants put together a list of airmen who may struggle financially or face some other hardship and then create a list of their children. The children are categorized by age and gender and assigned an ornament on the Christmas tree at the RAF Mildenhall Base Exchange. Anyone interested in giving to the program simply takes the ornament and buys a gift appropriate for the child listed.

“It’s still amazing to us to see how much people give,” Dunham said. “You look at the box and there are huge toys and even bicycles. We know it means so much to the children.”

Volunteers serving at the tri-base community of RAFs Alconbury, Molesworth and Upwood also participated in an Angel Tree program for local families.

On RAF Lakenheath, 48th Security Forces Senior Master Sgt. Christine Colbert works with the Good Sam program, which raises money to provide needy Air Force families with extra resources during the holidays.

“We’re able to help a lot of families and do our best to make sure every Air Force child has a happy Christmas,” she said.

A contingent of Marines based at RAF Molesworth participated in the corps’ popular annual charity program, Toys for Tots, by collecting more than 1,500 toys. The Marines delivered the toys to three local charities, including two off-base organizations.

The Marines teamed up with the RAF Alconbury chapel to deliver the toys to a battered women’s shelter in Huntingdon as well as serving the women and children a holiday dinner.

There are also various groups delivering holiday food baskets at Christmas just as they did for select families during the Thanksgiving holiday.

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