HomeNewsArticle Display

AFCEC spreads holiday cheer to local children

Air Force Civil Engineeer Center volunteers distributed gifts to 165 children at the “Spread the Joy” gift-giving party and dinner held at Lucille Moore Elementary School in Panama City on December 15. Each child received a coat, shirt, pants, a pair of shoes and two toys of their choice. Santa stopped by to with everyone a Merry Christmas.

Santa Claus greeted 165 children, their families and 100 volunteers at the “Spread the Joy” party at Lucille Moore Elementary School in Panama City, Florida, this year. The Air Force Civil Engineer Center has facilitated the event for four consecutive years to ensure less fortunate children have a happy holiday season. (U.S. Air Force photo by Brian Goddin)

Air Force Civil Engineeer Center volunteers distributed gifts to 165 children at the “Spread the Joy” gift-giving party and dinner held at Lucille Moore Elementary School in Panama City on December 15. Each child received a coat, shirt, pants, a pair of shoes and two toys of their choice. Santa stopped by to with everyone a Merry Christmas.

“Spread the Joy” would not have been the success it was this year without the help of 100 volunteers including AFCEC personnel and their family and friends. Several of those volunteers gathered for a photo just before Santa’s elves arrived for the gift-giving party at Lucille Moore Elementary School in Panama City, Florida, Dec. 15. (U.S. Air Force photo by Brian Goddin)

Air Force Civil Engineeer Center volunteers distributed gifts to 165 children at the “Spread the Joy” gift-giving party and dinner held at Lucille Moore Elementary School in Panama City on December 15. Each child received a coat, shirt, pants, a pair of shoes and two toys of their choice. Santa stopped by to with everyone a Merry Christmas.

The thrill of opening gifts may not have been possible for several Bay County, Florida, children this year without the help of the Air Force Civil Engineer Center. AFCEC sponsored 165 less fortunate students at a Title 1 Panama City elementary school this year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Brian Goddin)

Air Force Civil Engineeer Center volunteers distributed gifts to 165 children at the “Spread the Joy” gift-giving party and dinner held at Lucille Moore Elementary School in Panama City on December 15. Each child received a coat, shirt, pants, a pair of shoes and two toys of their choice. Santa stopped by to with everyone a Merry Christmas.

The Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s emergency management (EM) division personnel and a grateful family pose with Santa Claus at the Spread the Joy party. AFCEC’s EM division started Spread the Joy in 2014 providing gifts to 12 kids in need. This year 165 students benefitted from the program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Brian Goddin)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.—Team members from the Air Force Civil Engineer Center at Tyndall made sure the holidays were brighter for some children in Bay County, Florida, through their local "Spread the Joy" program this month.

The program began in 2014 when AFCEC's Emergency Management (EM) division personnel bought gifts for 12 children in need. Since then, all of AFCEC’s Tyndall office has joined EM, sponsoring 50 children in 2015 and 150 last year.

This year, AFCEC volunteers distributed gifts to 165 children at a “Spread the Joy” gift-giving party and dinner held at Lucille Moore Elementary School in Panama City. Each child received a coat, shirt, pants, a pair of shoes and two toys of their choice.

“Our parents and students were very appreciative for all of the blessings,” said Dr. Paula Kaye Jones, Lucille Moore Elementary School Title 1 coordinator. “Some of them had tears in their eyes as they expressed their gratitude for what AFCEC and the other connected individuals did for them and their families. I was so humbled not only by the monetary generosity but also by the kindness and joy shared by AFCEC with the families at the event, as well as the spirit of servitude throughout the night. In reflection on Saturday, I became so overwhelmed by AFCEC's love and care for our families, I spent some time alone just crying because I was so touched.”

Event organizers were also touched by the outpouring of support for the program.

“It’s amazing how generous people are and how they want to ensure the child gets exactly what they ask for,” said Tammy Stundon, event organizer and EM chemical biological radiological nuclear scientist at AFCEC. “We are fully committed to impacting the lives of these children and we have set the foundation for tradition.”

During the week leading up to the party, all gifts are brought in and wrapped by volunteers.

“With 900 gifts to wrap, it’s all hands on deck,” said Mike Connors, AFCEC EM division chief. “And yes, we could have the sponsors wrap the presents, but it is a great AFCEC family atmosphere to have the wrapping event during the days leading up to the party.”

Bay District Schools’ official data indicates that 97 percent of the school’s students live in a state of generational poverty and 49 percent are considered homeless.

“Being homeless right now, we are trying to save up our money to get out of our situation so we don't have the money for Christmas,” said one parent that wished to remain anonymous. “We are grateful for the Tyndall people and what they have done for all of us.”

“Please tell the Airmen thank you so much because this is the only Christmas my children will have,” said another parent whose child was also a recipient.

In addition to sponsors within AFCEC, other Tyndall groups such as the base fire and explosive ordnance disposal flights and the Tyndall Officer Spouses' Club, sponsor children to help “Spread the Joy.”