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Operation Holiday Cheer arrives at Offutt

Volunteers with “Operation Holiday Cheer” assemble bags filled with food, treats, and thank you’ s at the Bellevue Volunteer Fire Department hall in Bellevue, Neb. Dec. 5, 2017.

Volunteers with “Operation Holiday Cheer” assemble bags filled with food, treats, and thank you’ s at the Bellevue Volunteer Fire Department hall in Bellevue, Neb. Dec. 5, 2017. The bags will be delivered during the holiday season to single Airmen living in Offutt Air Force Base dormitories as part of a program organized by the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce and Bellevue Economic Enhancement Foundation. (U. S. Air Force photo by Delanie Stafford)

Volunteers with “Operation Holiday Cheer” help assemble bags filled with food, treats, and thank you’s at the Bellevue Volunteer Fire Department hall in Bellevue, Neb. Dec. 5, 2017 as part of “Operation Holiday Cheer."

Volunteers with “Operation Holiday Cheer” help assemble bags filled with food, treats, and thank you’ s at the Bellevue Volunteer Fire Department hall in Bellevue, Neb. Dec. 5, 2017 as part of “Operation Holiday Cheer.” The bags will be delivered during the holiday season to single Airmen living in Offutt Air Force Base dormitories as part of a program organized by the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce and Bellevue Economic Enhancement Foundation. (U. S. Air Force photo by Delanie Stafford)

Col. Michael Manion, 55th Wing commander, and 55th Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. Brian Kruzelnick help assemble bags filled with food, treats, and thank you’ s at the Bellevue Volunteer Fire Department hall in Bellevue, Neb. Dec. 5, 2017 as part of “Operation Holiday Cheer.”

Col. Michael Manion, 55th Wing commander, and 55th Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. Brian Kruzelnick help assemble bags filled with food, treats, and thank you’ s at the Bellevue Volunteer Fire Department hall in Bellevue, Neb. Dec. 5, 2017 as part of “Operation Holiday Cheer.” The bags will be delivered during the holiday season to single Airmen living in Offutt Air Force Base dormitories as part of a program organized by the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce and Bellevue Economic Enhancement Foundation. (U. S. Air Force photo by Delanie Stafford)

Col. Michael Manion, 55th Wing commander, helps assemble bags filled with food, treats, and thank you’s at the Bellevue Volunteer Fire Department hall in Bellevue, Neb. Dec. 5, 2017 as part of “Operation Holiday Cheer."

Col. Michael Manion, 55th Wing commander, helps assemble bags filled with food, treats, and thank you’s at the Bellevue Volunteer Fire Department hall in Bellevue, Neb. Dec. 5, 2017 as part of “Operation Holiday Cheer." The bags will be delivered during the holiday season to single Airmen living in Offutt Air Force Base dormitories as part of a program organized by the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce and Bellevue Economic Enhancement Foundation. (U. S. Air Force photo by Delanie Stafford)

Command Chief Master Sgt. Brian Kruzelnick, 55th Wing command chief, helps assemble bags filled with food, treats, and thank you’ s at the Bellevue Volunteer Fire Department hall in Bellevue, Neb. Dec. 5, 2017 as part of “Operation Holiday Cheer.”

Command Chief Master Sgt. Brian Kruzelnick, 55th Wing command chief, helps assemble bags filled with food, treats, and thank you’ s at the Bellevue Volunteer Fire Department hall in Bellevue, Neb. Dec. 5, 2017 as part of “Operation Holiday Cheer.” The bags will be delivered during the holiday season to single Airmen living in Offutt Air Force Base dormitories as part of a program organized by the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce and Bellevue Economic Enhancement Foundation. (U. S. Air Force photo by Delanie Stafford)

Volunteers with “Operation Holiday Cheer” pose for a photo at the Bellevue Volunteer Fire Department hall in Bellevue, Neb. Dec. 5, 2017.

Volunteers with “Operation Holiday Cheer” pose for a photo at the Bellevue Volunteer Fire Department hall in Bellevue, Neb. Dec. 5, 2017. The volunteers assembled bags filled with food, treats, and thank you’ s that will be delivered during the holiday season to single Airmen living in Offutt Air Force Base dormitories as part of a program organized by the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce and Bellevue Economic Enhancement Foundation. (U. S. Air Force photo by Delanie Stafford)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- Volunteers from the Bellevue-Offutt community volunteered their morning on Dec. 6 to stuff bags at the Olde Towne Bellevue Firefighters Hall to bring sweet joy to the Airmen of Team Offutt.

There were more than 40 volunteers who showed up, filling more than 500 bags with a variety of sweet treats for the residents of Offutt's dormitories. 

Once filled, the bags were boxed up and sent to Offutt where they were delivered by first sergeants to the dorms on base.

 "This is one of my favorite events of the year," said Doris Urwin, an administrator at the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce. "To me, being able to let the Airmen know we care for them and appreciate their service just seems a little more important during the holidays."

 The chamber, along with the Bellevue Economic Enhancement Foundation, actively start looking for donations 45 days prior to the event but receive interest throughout the year.

 Even the Bellevue Public School students assisted with the operation. Students from kindergarten through sixth grade crafted hundreds of hand-written cards, cut in the shape of trees, elves and Santas, that thanked the Airmen for their service.

For some Airmen who are spending their holidays away from home, some for the first time, this bag of goodies is a welcome gift. 

Base leadership went to Olde Towne Bellevue Firefighters Hall and assisted in putting the Operation Holiday Cheer bags together.

"I am humbled and encouraged by the amount of support the community surrounding Offutt Air Force Base displays consistently year after year," said Chief Master Sgt. Brian Kruzelnick, 55th Wing command chief. “This time of year can be difficult for some of our Offutt members, but to have the community rally around them is priceless.”

Each volunteer manned a station to place goodies in the bags as they made their way around the room. When the bags came to the end of the tables, volunteers placed 25 bags in each box and sealed them to be delivered to the base later that day. This process takes more than 90 minutes.

The bags, which were donated by a local business, are sturdy enough to serve the Airmen as backpacks well after the bag is empty of treats. It's made of a heavy fabric with a draw-string top and embossed with the Holiday Cheer logo.

When the Operation Holiday Cheer program began, they used paper bags, but there would be ripped and torn bags by the end. The new bags are tough enough for the Operation Holiday Cheer mission and after that Airmen can use them for other things.

"We couldn't do this without the support of everyone in the Bellevue-Offutt community," Urwin said. “I thank our donors and volunteers and wish our service members the best this holiday season.”