Ops Adopts program spreads holiday cheer to local children

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Emily Beightol-Deyerle
  • 167th Airlift Wing

If the success of the Ops Adopts program is a measure of Christmas spirit then it would be safe to say Christmas spirit abound at the 167th Airlift Wing this year. 

Ops Adopts, a Christmas gift drive, was spearheaded five years ago by Capt. Ryan Day, a pilot for the 167th Operations Group, and his wife Senior Master Sgt. Jennifer Day.

Their small gesture to help a family in need has grown to an outreach program that, this year, supported 35 families with 94 children in total, from 5 local schools.

“The Ops Adopts Program exceeded our expectations this year for both the number of families we adopted as well as the quantity of volunteers that chose to participate in the program,” said Master Sgt. Breanne Spessard, an aviation resource manager for the 167th OG, who helps coordinate the program each year. “In fact, this year’s Ops Adopts Program had the highest amount of adopted families and volunteer participation in the history of the program.”

Airmen from all four groups across the wing chose to participate in the voluntary program. They were provided the first name, age, gender, clothing and shoes sizes of a child along with a list of their hobbies, interests, or favorite characters, to help with choosing gifts.

The gifts were collected in the operations building in mid-December and delivered to the schools Dec. 20.

Jaime Laidlow, a counselor at Bunker Hill Elementary School, said the Ops Adopts program has been a blessing to many of their families.

“The amount of gratitude felt by parents and guardians is visible by the looks of surprise and delight on their faces when they pick up the gifts provided for their children,” said Laidlow. “This program has brought joy and hope to our families that may be experiencing financial difficulty during this otherwise joyous time.”

Spessard attributed the ease of the Ops Adopts effort this year to the abundant support of the unit members.

“The Wing really pulled together to make this happen for our community, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a member of the 167th,” said Spessard.