Military children benefit from annual holiday program

Master Sgt. Jennifer Laplante, 75th Dental Squadron, and Marjorie Cremer, volunteer, sort gifts Dec. 7 at the Hill AFB Chapel for the annual Angel Tree program. Volunteers organized donated gifts for distribution to military families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

Master Sgt. Jennifer Laplante, 75th Dental Squadron, and Marjorie Cremer, volunteer, sort gifts Dec. 7 at the Hill AFB Chapel for the annual Angel Tree program. Volunteers organized donated gifts for distribution to military families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

(Left to right) John Pascowitz, volunteer, Master Sgt. Jason Franklin, 75th Force Support Squadron, and Airman 1st Class Morgan Matteson, 388th Fighter Wing, sort donated toys Dec. 7 at the Hill AFB Chapel. The toys, collected during Operation Home Front, will be distributed as part of the Angel Tree program to military families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

(Left to right) John Pascowitz, volunteer, Master Sgt. Jason Franklin, 75th Force Support Squadron, and Airman 1st Class Morgan Matteson, 388th Fighter Wing, sort donated toys Dec. 7 at the Hill AFB Chapel. The toys, collected during Operation Home Front, will be distributed as part of the Angel Tree program to military families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

Team Hill volunteers sort gifts Dec. 7 at the Hill AFB Chapel for the annual Angel Tree program. Volunteers organized donated gifts for distribution to military families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

Team Hill volunteers sort gifts Dec. 7 at the Hill AFB Chapel for the annual Angel Tree program. Volunteers organized donated gifts for distribution to military families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- The Angel Tree program has been a holiday tradition for years and provides military families in need help in giving children a very special Christmas.

The annual program, now in its 18th year, kicks off at the beginning of the holiday season.

Clothes and toys are provided for children through the support of community donors. The Hill AFB Chapel facilitates the event, while the program is organized and run by community volunteers, the First Sergeants Association and Airmen.

Volunteer, Master Sgt. Jennifer Laplante, said she was happy to participate.

“This is my first year. I think it’s great to be a part of this program.” Laplante said. “The people who donate, do it all. They are so generous to give to military families and I’m just glad to be helping out.”

Team Hill’s first sergeants generate Angel Tree cards by anonymously nominating children and families.

These cards are then hung on the Angel Tree, displayed in chapel’s foyer. The volunteers then make gift tags from the cards and collect, organize and distribute the gifts to the base’s first sergeants for delivery.

On distribution day this year, volunteers wrapped and sorted hundreds of packages, filling the chapel’s pews with plastic bags stuffed with gifts.

Volunteer program organizer, Geri Carrier, was impressed with this year’s effort.

“The community here is wonderful. Many of the volunteers have been working with me on this program for years and years. There is little need for direction, because they know exactly what to do,” Carrier said. “The participation by volunteers and generosity of the community is always great and continues to grow every year.”

Carrier has been the lead volunteer for nine years and has watched the program grow. She has heard from people who received help in the past and then donated gifts in later years.

The program also receives donations not tied to Angel Tree cards. One such donation this year included large boxes of diapers, which will be given to families who need them.

Volunteers agree this year’s Angel Tree program will be a big success, because of the efforts and kindness of the Team Hill community.

The combined generosity of donations and volunteer time will help more than 300 children.