Chamber hosts annual Operation Holiday Cheer

  • Published
  • By 55th Wing Public Affairs

The Greater Bellevue Area Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual Operation Holiday Cheer event at the Bellevue Volunteer Fire Department Dec. 14, 2021.

For more than 20 years now the chamber has brought together local civic leaders to fill goodie bags with an assortment of food, cards, candy and more before being delivered to Offutt Air Force Base dormitory residents.

“As the new president and CEO of the chamber, it was an honor to help organize the event this year with community leaders and base leadership,” said Michelle Andahl, Greater Bellevue Area Chamber president and CEO.

Andahl said she knew the community has always supported Team Offutt, but was overwhelmed by seeing it firsthand through Operation Holiday Cheer.

“In this second year of COVID, where businesses have heavily been affected, we were not sure what to expect in regard to organizations being able to make donations,” she said. “When we put out the call for sponsors, volunteers and donations, we had no idea the response would be as incredible as it was. The phones and emails started coming in and local businesses were more generous than ever, and it gave us all such a grateful feeling to see all the love and support that everyone wanted to show to our Airmen and women of Offutt Air Force Base.

“It truly was the most heartwarming experience of this holiday season,” she added.

The volunteers worked together in an assembly line to fill more than 500 bags.

“We’re so incredibly lucky at Team Offutt to be part of a community who cares so much about our active duty members,” said Chief Master Sgt. Bryan Tuman, 55th Wing command chief, who attended the event. “I cannot thank everyone enough for their generosity and making Operation Holiday Cheer happen.”

All of the gift bag items were donated by various businesses or purchased through donations from organizations like the Offutt Advisory Council.

“I hope that if any of the Airmen and women that received bags see this message, they will know how much each and every one of them means to our community,” Andahl said. “We see you, serving our nation proudly and loyally, and we appreciate all that you do and we know that you sacrifice time with loved ones during the holidays to ensure that every American can go to sleep protected each night.”