11/23/08 — Group hosts tree to help needy SJAFB children

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Group hosts tree to help needy SJAFB children

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on November 23, 2008 2:00 AM


This tree in the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Exchange contains the names of children of families of SJAFB airmen and women who are struggling to make ends meet this holiday season.

Their Christmas wishes are simple -- some winter clothing, maybe a doll, book or action figure.

But some Air Force children won't find those items under the tree this year.

At least, not without a little help.

So 4th Fighter Wing Lt. Lori Bartz hung each child's story where ornaments might go on a special tree -- an angel tree -- inside the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Exchange.

And now she waits, hoping that each of the 100-plus boys and girls will be "adopted" by someone with the means to give.

"I have got people who come in for diapers and wipes," Mrs. Bartz said. "Now that's a family in need."

Tough economic times mean more young airmen without the funds necessary to make this holiday season special for their children.

Some are single parents.

Others are spouses of the deployed.

But Mrs. Bartz and other members of the Company Grade Officers Club refuse to let them come up short.

Even if it means taking their cause outside the base gates.

"I will take the angels to them if that's what I need to do," Mrs. Bartz said. "Anything to help these kids."

Last November marked the first time an angel tree was erected at Seymour Johnson -- an program that saw more than $4,000 in gifts dispersed among 92 children.

Club members hope to make even more of an impact this year.

"Right now, we are on pace to probably do more than 100 kids," Mrs. Bartz said. "There is a lot more need this year."

The deadline to adopt and purchase gifts for a child is Dec. 17, but because the tree is on base, those without access to Seymour Johnson are asked to send donations -- gifts or checks to The Company Grade Officers Club, 1355 Jabara Ave., Goldsboro, N.C. 27531.