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Kadena Angel Tree brings holiday joy to military families

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Angelique Perez
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs
Angels are on the way to assist financially strapped military families this holiday season. 

A time-honored tradition on military bases, the Angel Tree program provides people with the opportunity to give gifts - mostly toys - to families that aren't able to afford them. The 18th Wing Chapel manages the holiday program here at Kadena. 

"The angel tree is a place where an angel is hung up with the age and gender of the child and what they want for Christmas," said Chaplain (Capt.) Zebulon Beck. "So the person that is giving reads that and can go out to the BX or wherever and buy that gift, attach the angel to it and bring it back to us. Then we wrap it and give it to that family." 

First sergeants identify families within their unit who could benefit from the program. Young, enlisted families with many children are usually the most likely to benefit from the Angel Tree. 

"There is no price limit. So somebody can buy a bicycle or a doll," Chaplain Beck said. "If you're buying for a two-year-old, you're probably looking at more of a $20 gift as maybe opposed to an 11-year-old [where] maybe $50 is more appropriate." 

Announcements are made at chapel services and those who want to participate are directed to the angels. Anyone can stop by Chapel 2 and ask if any angels are still available. Typically, 150 to 300 children have angels on the tree. 

"There has always been a desire within the community to give and reach out to those who maybe are not able to afford a great Christmas," said the chaplain. "The spirit of giving has been around in one form or another for a long time. The Angel Tree just brings it all together." 

The Angel Tree will remain open for gifts and gift requests until Dec. 17. 

According to the chapel staff, there is still room for more angels on the tree. They are encouraging friends, co-workers and neighbors to identify Kadena military families who could benefit from the Angel Tree and tell the chapel staff or the servicemember's First Sergeant. 

"When you open up all the gifts on Christmas morning, there is always a hope that other people are enjoying it just as much as you are," said Chaplain Beck, "and the feeling that maybe somebody is not having the same joy that your kids are having or that you had as a little kid kind of weighs on your heart." 

"So it makes me feel good to know that everybody within our community can have the opportunity to have a special Christmas morning," Said Chaplain Beck.