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October 4, 2013

Fighter squadrons improve community

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Senior Airman DAVID OWSIANKA
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Airmen from the 310th Fighter Squadron shovel rock into a wheelbarrow Saturday during a Habitat for Humanity event in Surprise. Airmen completed landscaping and painted a courtyard for four homes.

More than 40 Luke Airmen stepped up to help the community in a home improvement challenge.

Four Luke Air Force Base fighter squadrons participated in a landscaping competition in support of Habitat for Humanity Sept. 28 in Surprise.

The 308th, 309th, 310th and 62nd fighter squadrons were assigned identical units to see which squadron did the best landscaping and courtyard painting. The Airmen were judged on quantity and quality of work including speed, neatness and cleanliness.

“After volunteering for another HFH event in June, we came up with the idea of getting all of the squadrons together and making it a competition,” said Capt. Brandon Roth, 62nd FS B flight commander. “It’s important for us as a military to be involved in the community to help others.”

Habitat for Humanity is an international nonprofit agency that builds and repairs houses throughout the world using volunteer labor and donations. The organization has helped build or repair more than 600,000 houses and served more than 3 million people worldwide.

Volunteers help make it possible for families to live in affordable homes, according to Dave Bunzel, Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona volunteer and community support manager.

Maj. Nathan Smith, 62nd Fighter Squadron assistant director of operations, paints part of a courtyard Saturday during a Habitat for Humanity event in Surprise.

“We have a tremendous gain in the quality of work when Luke Airmen volunteer,” he said. “The great thing about the Airmen is they are quick and we don’t have to explain their tasks more than once. We love how they are here to make a difference, not just with what they do in defending our country, but making a difference in the community.”

The organization also helps families purchase these houses through no-profit, no-interest mortgage loans or innovative financing methods.

Letty Garcia is one of the soon to be homeowners.

“I am very thankful for the organization helping with this house and the volunteers from Luke helping me with my new home,” she said. “They have done a wonderful job taking care of the landscaping and painting my courtyard.”

Upon finishing the landscaping and painting the courtyards, the judges announced the 62nd FS as the winner of the competition.

“I was incredibly proud to be an Airman when the competition kicked off and we had 43 great Americans furiously shoveling gravel at 6:30 a.m. on a Saturday for no reason other than giving back to the community while competing against friends,” Roth said. “The Spikes are excited to have won the competition, but I think everyone was much happier with the amount of work we were able to get done toward such a good cause.”




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