Photo By Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson | Airmen, assigned to the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia take advantage of an event set up by chapel staff to distribute donated items sent from home July 18, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson/Released)
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UNDISCLOSED LOCATION - 380th Air Expeditionary Wing chapel staff recently set up a tent near the chapel to distribute donated items sent from home to the Airmen and Soldiers assigned to the base at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.
The non-commissioned officer in charge of the chapel said this provided chapel staff the opportunity to hand out phone cards, toiletries and hand-made pillow cases to service members in need.
"This is my first one and this is kind of ground-breaking for us," said Master Sgt. Andre Williamson. "As donations come in we want to get them into the right hands to those that really need it and it could be a help to them."
The event was structured like a flea market or sidewalk sale that passersby might be familiar with back home. Items were neatly arranged on tables and containers and bags were provided for the Airmen and Soldiers to fill with toothpaste, soaps or the sun block of their choice. Grab bags containing a surprise mixture of items were also available.
Williamson said the event also provided an opportunity to highlight the services offered by chapel staff to the deployed service members.
"Not only do we provide religious services, but there's also counseling and we also provide goodies from back home," Williamson said. "It's just to give them that feeling that they're supported both emotionally as well as financially."
Williamson said packages containing the donations were sent to the wing from states as far away as California and Hawaii. Individuals and organizations both stepped up to contribute to the cause.
"I would really like to just thank all those who have made a donation," said Williamson. "Everything has been heartfelt and it just lets us know that the people back home still care."
Members of the chapel staff are considering whether to continue to host sidewalk events to assist them in distributing donated items. In the meantime, Airmen or Soldiers needing small amounts of toothpaste or sun block are encouraged to visit their offices located upstairs from the main chapel.
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