Getting personal: Major works on party providing Christmas to kids who might go without
The concerns of the holiday season can seem numerous and hard to overcome. What do I get that great girl who has everything? What the heck will I cook for everyone coming over? Can you actually deep-fry a ham?
These priorities may seem important, but put them in context. Amid the fray, it can be easy for the more fortunate to forget about those who might not be getting gifts or a nice Christmas dinner.
So, if you’ve got loved ones around you, a few items under the tree and decent chow on the table, don’t forget to count your blessings. And help those around you who need a holiday hand.
That was the idea behind an event last week at the Mildenhall Community Centre in the village. For the 13th year in a row, airmen from Lakenheath’s 48th Equipment Maintenance and Munitions squadrons gathered to help children in the area for whom a Merry Christmas was not a given.
Maj. Darrin Dronoff is the 48th EMS commander and one of the event organizers this year.
So what’s this event all about?
This event is to provide a Christmas to children who probably wouldn’t have a Christmas in the local community, between Mildenhall and Lakenheath. We’ve been doing this now pretty much for 60 years. The 8th Army Air Corps started this to help children during the war time. This is a combined joint effort between EMS and [48th Munitions Squadron].
Do you have kids yourself?
Does being a parent affect how you view an event that helps out children?
It gives you a great perspective you wouldn’t have. I have folks helping out today that are parents and not parents. But being a parent puts you in the shoes of the parents here, to see what it’s really like and how tough it can be at certain times of the year.
So the event includes food, gifts and the like?
They come in here and it lasts for two hours. There’s games, food, we have a magician. ... Then we have a visit from Santa Claus. The members of EMS and MONS have donated over 320 presents for this event. We forecast about 300 children so we did get some extra there. And St. Nicholas will be delivering those presents.
What do the squadrons get from doing something like this?
Recently, we just celebrated the 60th anniversary of Lakenheath. So we’ve been a part of this community for a very long time, and it’s just an opportunity for us to give back. They’ve opened up their communities to us and treated us like family, and we want to repay that. This is an ongoing relationship, and we get a great kick out of it.
How long have you been in England?
I’ve been in England for about a year and a half now.
So it’s your second Christmas overseas?
Do you notice any big differences between a U.S. and U.K. Christmas?
Just the names. They talk about St. Nicholas and Father Christmas. But the spirit of Christmas is at the heart, and it’s the same here for a U.K. child as it is for a United States child.
What’s your best Christmas?
I think the Christmas when I had my first child. Every Christmas is different, but when you’re doing it for the first time as a parent, you get to take all those ideas and say "it’s all for my child," and that’s a blast.