11/27/12 — Tree offers chance to help SJAFB children

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Tree offers chance to help SJAFB children

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on November 27, 2012 1:46 PM

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1st Lt. Kimberly Kueny handles one of the angels on the Angel Tree recently placed in the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Exchange. Each angel represents an Air Force child in need.

To passers-by, they look simple enough -- the small, angel-shaped ornaments hanging from the branches of the Christmas tree located inside the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Exchange.

But a closer look reveals the true meaning behind their presence there -- just why they are significant enough to merit the removal of one by the base's highest-ranking officer.

Each angel represents a child, the son or daughter of a locally stationed airman who doesn't have the means to provide them with a memorable Christmas morning.

So when 4th Fighter Wing Commander Col. Jeannie Leavitt kicked off the base's annual Angel Tree program by committing herself to the first wish list, she did it not only to ensure the burden of one family was lifted, but also to encourage those under her command to follow her lead -- so that every son and daughter of Seymour Johnson will have a happy holiday.

"The Angel Tree program holds the immediate benefit that a child, who might have gone without a gift this year, will know the joy and magic of the holiday season," she said. "And parents will know the joy and magic of the helping hands of angels as their worries are alleviated."

The program, which has been in existence for several years, has, since its inception, served hundreds of children.

Anyone with access to the base can participate.

Each "angel" carries the name, age, gender and wish list for a particular child and they will be available for removal from the tree through Dec. 14.

Leavitt hopes none of them are left behind.

It's the least people can do, she said, to again thank those who sacrifice so much for their families, neighbors and nation.

"As airmen, and families of airmen, it is our nature and tradition to serve -- and to give," the colonel said. "What better way to carry on these values than to know you have contributed to a child's happiness."