ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE | Volunteers distributed bags filled with food, toiletries, and holiday necessities to Airmen from ranks E-1 through E-6 at the Rushmore Center for the second annual Holiday Meals for Military event on Nov. 20.

As the third Thursday of November looms close, Operation Homefront, the Airman & Family Readiness Center, and sponsors from the Rapid City community distributed 380 bags of food to make this Thanksgiving a little easier for Team Ellsworth.

Planning for the event took months, culminating in an action-packed day of stocking the bags in the morning, and distributing the bags as Airmen got off work around 4 p.m.

The event was more than providing extra food – Airmen were helping Airmen.

“We bring in the Airmen to help out,” said Maj. Michelle Durand, 28th Force Support Squadron commander. “We had a ton of Airmen, civilians, officers, and [first sergeants].”

For some recipients, the holiday nourishment won’t just impact their own family. Heather Ryan, president of the Ellsworth Spouses Club and wife of Senior Airman Michael Ryan, Armament Systems Crew Member assigned to the 28th Munitions Squadron, will host Airmen at their home who work in her husband’s shop thanks to the donation.

“Last year, we were on an E-3 budget, and we invited everyone from [my husband’s] shop in,” Ryan said. “It was extremely expensive, [so] we really appreciate [the support].”

The event was possible due to multiple community sponsors.

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Sharon Blair, deli associate at the LaCrosse Street Walmart, took advantage of her day off to serve Team Ellsworth and to make sure Airmen knew of the caring community behind them.

“[I wanted] to give [Airmen] something they would always remember; someone really cares about them,” Blair said.

Brandy Wyatt, chief of the Airman and Family Readiness flight assigned to the 28th Force Support Squadron, was honored that her team was able to coordinate this event.

“[The Airman & Family Readiness Center is] kind of the one-stop shop,” said Wyatt. “We like to take care of [Airmen] in any way we can.”

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