Operation Provide Joy: Spreading the holiday spirit

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Brandon Valle
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs
The smell of a freshly cut Christmas tree. Stocking hung by the chimney with care. Presents under the tree waiting until Christmas day. The holidays are a time of great memories for children of all ages. But not everyone gets a chance to experience the holidays the same way. That's where Operation Provide Joy steps in to help those less fortunate.

"Operation Provide Joy is a program that gives a magical Christmas holiday event to children who would otherwise have little or nothing," said 1st Lt. Carli Frasier, 90th Operations Support Squadron.

Operation Provide Joy is part toy drive, part holiday celebration. The toy drive began Nov. 18 and runs through Dec. 13. The drive caps off with a holiday event at the Fall Hall Community Center Dec. 14 from 8 a.m. to noon.

"The underprivileged families in our community receive a holiday meal, and their children are invited to a holiday party put on at Fall Hall," said 1st Lt. Rachel Weiler, 321st Missile Squadron. "This is our way of reaching out to the community and giving them the VIP treatment and to spread the love of the holiday season."

The children and families who attend the OPJ event are chosen by the Salvation Army in Cheyenne, Frasier said.

"The Salvation Army selects 100 children from the community, and we provide the party, meals and gifts for the families. This is an incredibly rewarding event for all who participate," Weiler said.

The children get the chance to meet Santa and his elves and receive a special gift bag designed specifically for their age and gender.

For the volunteers of OPJ, the final party is the best reward to receive.

"After seeing the faces of the children light up at my stories of Santa and his elves, and seeing the excitement on their faces when Santa talked to them and gave them toys, I was sold," Frasier said. "My holidays were made better because I was able to participate in this great event"

OPJ has established a strong tradition of helping to raise the spirits of the less fortunate, she added.

"I have participated in the event for three years," Weiler said. "There is no way to describe the joy on the children's faces and the gratefulness of the families. Our family here on base has the chance to reach our community in a way that shows them how much we care and that they are valued."