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A helping heart: Reserve Citizen Airman provides for children in need

An Airman arrange donated items on a desk

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Eric Porth, a fuel systems craftsman assigned to the 307th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, organizes donations at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, August 7, 2021. Porth spearheaded a supply drive for school children in Shreveport and Bossier City, Louisiana after hearing about their needs from a friend with a local charity organization. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kate Bragg)

Photo of Airman surrounded by boxes.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Eric Porth, a fuel systems craftsman assigned to the 307th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, drops off back-to-school donation in Shreveport, Louisiana, August 10, 2021. Porth collected items from Airmen and their families across Barksdale Air Force Base, including backpacks, school supplies and personal hygiene items. (courtesy photo)

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --

Most people don't share their toothbrush, not even with another family member.

But that exact situation is what spurred Tech. Sgt. Eric Porth to start a donation drive for children in low-income families in Shreveport and Bossier City, Louisiana.

Porth, a fuel systems craftsman with the 307th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, spoke with a friend last month who works at a local community health center. What Porth learned from that conversation stunned him.

 "There was a family of six, and they had one toothbrush for the entire family," he said. "Wow, you just think it's normal to have your own toothbrush."

Porth began learning more about the children. After a doctor's visit, he explained that they often go to a treasure chest box filled with fun goodies, like small toys. But the boxes also have personal hygiene products like deodorant, toothbrushes, and soap.

"The kids always go for the hygiene products," Porth said. "They want their own products so that they don't have to share with their family."

Porth quickly decided to create a donation drive for the children. He began to post flyers around his squadron, personally appealing for help from the Airmen.

He focused on collecting necessities children would need for the school year, such as backpacks, socks, and underwear, in addition to personal hygiene items.

According to Porth, the drive was supposed to be only at the squadron level, but word got out, and it spread to the entire 307th Bomb Wing.  Then, after a meeting with the 2nd Bomb Wing's first sergeants, it reached the whole base.

For Porth, the thought of a child suffering was all the motivation he needed to start the drive.

"I wasn't the richest kid growing up, but I always had my own toothbrush," he said. "It just hit me in the right way, and I thought I can do something, so let's do it!"

Though this year’s drive is over, Porth said he plans on making it an annual event to serve even more children in the area.