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Hill AFB deliver gifts to foster families and children

  • Published
  • By 419th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The holidays are meant to be a merry time of year. It’s the Santa Brigade’s mission to bring joy to children in the Utah Foster Care organization.

On December 14, 2022, Airmen from the 419th Fighter Wing, 388th Fighter Wing, 649th Munitions Squadron, and 75th Air Base Wing volunteered their time to gather and deliver hundreds of gifts to the foster care families in northern Utah.

“I am glad that I get to participate in such a rewarding event,” said Airman Gloria Rowden, a member with the 388th Munitions Squadron and a first-time volunteer. “It makes me feel good to know that these children aren’t forgotten.”

Rowden understands what it is like to be in foster care. Born in Guatemala, she spent time in foster care before she was adopted.

“I know what it feels like to not have a lot,” said Rowden. “I hope that these gifts will help fill their hearts this holiday season.”

The Santa Brigade is a long-standing tradition at Hill Air Force Base beginning in 2007. The 419th FW spearheads this yearly event and usually collects 200 gifts a year.

Over time, With the help of the 388th FW and the 75th ABW, the Santa Brigade has gifted thousands of presents to foster families and children.

“We do it for the kids,” said Master Sgt. Rhet Ponchinlan, a low observable craftsman with the 419th FW. “We love giving back to the community and are thankful for what foster families do.”

Five years of volunteering has given Ponchinlan a deep understanding of what it means to be a part of the Santa Brigade.

“It means a lot to me because I don’t have kids myself,” said Ponchinlan. “I’ve met kids from infants to 16 years old. These kids are the future and if I can help them in any way, I will.”

This year, the Santa Brigade was led by by Master Sgt. Cunnningham, a quality assurance inspector with the 419th fighter Wing, who manned over 100 volunteers and successfully delivered over 600 gifts to 183 children.