‘Elf’ brightens holiday duty
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — It was the night before Christmas, but there was still plenty stirring on base.
That’s because some jobs, such as firefighters and other emergency services, can’t just shut down for the holidays.
To make sure people stuck working the holiday shift aren’t forgotten, the 374th Force Support Squadron came up with a program called Project Elf.
Now in its sixth year, Project Elf provides goodie bags packed with toys, candy, gum and other treats for units with staff working the holidays. The support squadron funds the project, with additional contributions provided by the Yokota community.
This year, unit first sergeants and commanders placed orders for bags by Dec. 17.
Throughout Wednesday, leaders stopped to pick up their set of bags from the hundreds that were waiting in the Yujo Community Center.
"It goes a long way to raise morale and spirits," said 1st Sgt. Kelly Morast of the 374th Civil Engineering Squadron, after dropping off bags at Yokota’s fire station. "It’s never easy working during the holidays."
Project Elf was created by Bob McFall, who started the program at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss. In 2004, while serving as the interim chief of Yokota’s Family Member Programs Flight, he suggested it for Yokota.
Airman 1st Class Kenneth Tuttle, a driver-operator who has to work the Christmas Eve shift at the fire station, said he appreciated the gifts.
"It shows that we are cared about," he said, adding it’s even more meaningful for the single airmen. "Even with our families not here, we’re still a family here in the firehouse."