Imagine a buffet with an endless supply of your favorite foods for free, now revert to your childhood, exchange food for toys and you might grasp the sheer joy and excitement the ninth annual Holiday Open House delivered to Arizona military families at the Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Wing, in Tucson, Dec. 17.
The Family Readiness Office teamed up with non-profit organizations in Arizona that are dedicated to supporting military families, to host the annual holiday event. More than 500 people attended this year.
“This would not be possible without the efforts of all the volunteers that help make this event happen,” said Barb Gavre 162nd Wing family readiness coordinator. “A big thank you goes out to Operation Home Front, Military Assistance Mission and the Airmen of the 162nd Wing for all they do to ensure military families have the opportunity to receive gifts for Christmas.”
After days of preparation and countless volunteer hours logged by more than 40 volunteers, the thousands of toys were sorted, displayed and ready for eager little hands to pick up.
Throughout the day, more than 350 children filled 30 gallon bags with an assortment of toys and goodies.
Airman 1st Class Erin Hopper, a public health technician with the 162nd Medical Group, attended the open house for the second time with her 3-year old daughter Veronica.
“I love coming to this event because not only does it make me feel like part of the 162nd family,” said Hopper. “It makes me happy to bring my daughter and see her face light up.”