Local

March 22, 2013

Airmen share community spirit with students

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Senior Airman KATE VAUGHN
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Staff Sgt. Michael Banks, 56th Contracting Squadron contracting officer, assists kindergartners with donning deployment gear March 8 at Littleton Elementary School in Avondale. Banks was one of many volunteers to visit the children during the school’s community day.

Airmen from Luke Air Force Base participated March 8 in the Littleton Elementary School Community Day.

Event coordinators invited 15 Airmen to the school to assist students with putting together packages and letters to be sent to deployed military members serving in Afghanistan. The packages were given to the 56th Force Support Squadron Airman and Family Readiness Center and included items such as snacks and toiletries.

The volunteers were also asked to share information about military life with the students who ranged from first to eighth graders.

The experience helped students understand the true meaning of service, said Samantha Foster, Littleton Elementary first-grade teacher.

“Since the community service project we chose was sending goods from home to our dedicated service men and women overseas, we thought having students interact with Airmen from Luke would really help them to understand what service they were performing,” Foster said.

The community day was held as part of an initiative by the school that believes and teaches all children are capable of success.

“Success is defined differently depending on who you ask, but basically we can be successful in four areas: home and family, hobbies and recreation, community and service, and career and education,” Foster said. “This event was important to help students learn ways to give back to the community and learn who in their community can help them. When we show them different options of how they can serve others, it makes them feel good about themselves and helps them see into the future.”

However, the students were not the only ones who benefited from the experience, said Airman Joshua Bird, 56th Fighter Wing Legal office paralegal.

“I spoke about my personal experiences in the military in a number of classes to help engage the students in discussion about hope for their futures,” he said. “My favorite part about volunteering was being able to hear what the students thought about certain aspects of their potential, and it made me feel good to know that I was making a difference.”

The volunteers served two purposes at the event — The first was to assist the students with serving their community, and the second was giving the students a better idea of what being in the military is all about, said Barry Smith, Littleton Elementary seventh and eighth grades teacher.

“I teach history, so that involves a lot of stories about the military,” he said. “The students learn a lot about the military and when a member from today’s military talks to the students, it helps them to understand that it’s more than just a story.”

At the end of the day Foster said the event was a success and Littleton Elementary students and teachers are looking forward to more opportunities to spend time with Luke members.

“The students were so happy to have the Airmen here and they did a wonderful job answering questions,” Foster said. “They did great at explaining their jobs and helping students write letters, but overall showed them they are people just like anybody else.”

To see more photos from the Littleton Elementary Community Day, visit www.luke.af.mil.




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