Sock it to ‘em

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A parachute training instructor assigned to the 68th Rescue Squadron parachute jumps with a 500-pound barrel filled with socks at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Nov. 1, 2019. More than 1,300 pair of socks were donated to the Youth On Their Own program to be distributed to youth without homes. (Air Force photograph by Staff Sgt. Sergio A. Gamboa)

Airmen from the 355th Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., came together and gathered more than 1,300 pairs of socks and donated them to the Youth On Their Own program Nov. 1, 2019.

The 68th Rescue Squadron formal training unit played a big role in making the occasion a special and memorable one for everyone. YOTO is a dropout prevention program that supports the high school graduation and continued success of homeless, unaccompanied youth in Pima County.

“We thought about what could be a great way to showcase rescue capabilities while giving back to the community,” said Tech. Sgt. Clint C. Scott, 68th Rescue Squadron aircrew flight equipment logistics chief. “Nothing sounded better than showcasing our tandem team skills by giving them a taste of the rescue mission while providing training needed to our team.”

Members of the Youth On Their Own program, 68th Rescue Squadron and base volunteers pose for a group photo at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Nov. 1, 2019. Davis-Monthan members donated more than 1,300 socks to the Youth On Their Own program. (Air Force photograph by Staff Sgt. Sergio A. Gamboa)

Five jumpers with two 500-pound barrels filled with socks came gliding down to present the donation to the program.

“This is a magical partnership, and we are so grateful,” said Elizabeth Slater, YOTO CEO. “We have never seen anything like this before in our lives, and this was a very special day. In one day, D-M donated more socks then what we received all of last year.”

With this donation students are able to take as many socks as they need instead of a limited amount, said Slater.

“I was blown away from the turnout and wasn’t expecting this many donations at all,” said Airman 1st Class William Zaikawsky, 655th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron HC-130J Combat King II crew chief. With the amount of socks donated, it will really positively impact the teens in the Pima County area.”

Parachute training instructors assigned to the 68th Rescue Squadron perform inspections on their equipment before a jump at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Nov. 1, 2019. The team jumped with more than 1,300 pairs of socks that were donated to the Youth On Their Own program. (Air Force photograph by Staff Sgt. Sergio A. Gamboa)

Programs like this not only help students maintain resiliency in the local area, but all over the U.S. as well. This was especially true to one event volunteer.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of something like this because it is something that I received when I was younger,” said Airman 1st Class Ariah Watson, 655th AMXS propulsion journeyman. “It’s part of my upbringing, part of me and it hit close to home.”

Partnerships with the surrounding community sets the foundation of what DM is all about. Whether it is highlighting unit missions, or donating socks, building relationships with neighbors is one priority of the 355th Wing.

“Events like this shows our community that DM cares,” said Scott. “It’s the little things that go a long way. We are hoping that this helps out the youth and makes their holiday season a little warmer.”
 

Members of the 68th Rescue Squadron secure a barrel filled with socks onto an aircraft at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Nov. 1, 2019. More than 1,300 pair of socks were donated to the Youth On Their Own program to be distributed to youth without homes. (Air Force photograph by Staff Sgt. Sergio A. Gamboa)

 
Parachute training instructors assigned to the 68th Rescue Squadron load a barrel filled with socks onto an aircraft at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Nov. 1, 2019. The team jumped with more than 1,300 pairs of socks that were donated to the Youth On Their Own program. (Air Force photograph by Staff Sgt. Sergio A. Gamboa)