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Airmen bring early Christmas to kids with special needs

Master Sgt. Michael Johnson, 67th Aerial Port Squadron, helps Shayla unpack a box of gifts during a Christmas party at Mound Fort Junior High in Ogden

Master Sgt. Michael Johnson, 67th Aerial Port Squadron, helps Shayla unpack a box of gifts during a Christmas party at Mound Fort Junior High in Ogden Dec. 18. Reservists in the 67th APS have hosted the party for nearly 30 years, providing toys, clothes, and school supplies to students with special needs. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Tech. Sgt. Brad Williams and Senior Airman Todd Rimmach act as Santa’s helpers to Shaylan during a Christmas party at Mound Fort Junior High in Ogden

Tech. Sgt. Brad Williams (center) and Senior Airman Todd Rimmasch (right) act as Santa’s helpers to Shaylan during a Christmas party at Mound Fort Junior High in Ogden Dec. 18. Reservists in the 67th APS have hosted the party for nearly 30 years, providing toys, clothes, and school supplies to students with special needs. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Senior Airman Amy Barnes, 67th Aerial Port Squadron, helps Andrew unwrap gifts during a Christmas party at Mound Fort Junior High in Ogden

Senior Airman Amy Barnes, 67th Aerial Port Squadron, helps Andrew unwrap gifts during a Christmas party at Mound Fort Junior High in Ogden Dec. 18. Reservists in the 67th APS have hosted the party for nearly 30 years, providing toys, clothes, and school supplies to students with special needs. (U.S. Air Force photo)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – Santa got a heap of help from the 67th Aerial Port Squadron Dec. 18 as Airmen delivered Christmas gifts to students with special needs at Mound Fort Junior High in Ogden.

 

A tradition since 1990, reservists in the 67th APS delivered boxes of toys, clothes, and school supplies using funds the squadron collected throughout the year. Each box is tailor-made for students based on their wish lists and needs.

 

“Our unit has been doing this for years,” said Staff Sgt. Sierra Beers, project lead for the third year counting. “Lots of fundraising, shopping, and wrapping goes into it, but we have great support from our squadron. It’s so humbling to see the joy on the kids’ faces when they open their gifts.”

 

Teacher Tami Youngman, who has taught the class for 26 years, said the party has become her favorite holiday tradition.

 

As in winters past, Santa Claus and Buddy the Elf made special appearances to sing, dance, and talk one-on-one with students. Airmen — some dressed in elf apparel from head to toe — also brought gifts for the classroom as a whole, including a full-size refrigerator.

 

“This was an amazing opportunity,” said Senior Airman Todd Rimmasch, a first-time participant. “Everything’s changed since I had my own kids, so I was excited for the opportunity to help with this. It’s all about spreading Christmas joy and making kids happy. Seeing them smile, it’s joy like I’ve never felt before.”

 

The 67th APS is home to nearly 200 reservists who train for worldwide deployment.