Getting personal: Leading effort to help
Let’s face it. We all need a little bit of help now and then and the holiday season is no exception. To assist those having a hard time, RAF Mildenhall’s First Sergeant Council is sponsoring Operation Warm Heart, an effort to raise money for those members of the community who are in need. The program raised more than $14,000 last year.
This year’s efforts kicked off last month. Most of the donations will be distributed to families in the form of $50 commissary gift certificates.
Master Sgt. Beau Jones is the 100th Force Support Squadron’s first sergeant and is helping lead the effort this year to keep things merry for everyone in the community.
Is this your first year taking part in this?
It’s my third year. Looking back through our archives, I know it goes back 10 years. Lakenheath does something similar with the Good Samaritan Fund. I don’t want to seem like we’re the only ones doing this. (laughing)
Is there a great need within the community, and does it become more apparent over the holidays?
I believe so, yes, especially this year with the COLA (cost-of-living allowance) being cut in half right before Christmas. We don’t collect that much money. We usually dispense about $14,000 a year, but the chapel also does a collection. The enlisted and officers spouses clubs give us substantial donations as well.
Is there reluctance for needy airmen to come forward and ask for help?
I think it is difficult. Usually when we give it, people are like, "what, me?" Normally it’s an emergency situation that will come up. The first sergeant is usually proactive and does it behind the scenes. We try to fill the gaps.
Is that support network inherently part of the military community?
Yes, that’s going to be the hardest thing to lose when we go civilian.
Turning to the holidays, what’s the best Christmas gift you ever received?
I don’t know. (laughing) I wasn’t ready for that question. As an adult, I don’t really need anything. As a child, I remember I got STP Crash Cars. It was a lean Christmas that year, but I think our church helped out. It was the only thing I wanted and I got it.
What’s the worst?
I’ve never gotten bad gifts, probably just a bad sweater.
To donate time or money to Operation Warm Heart, contact Master Sgt. Beau Jonesat DSN 238-2759 or at email@example.com.