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Military families celebrate the season at Holiday Open House

Keahilana Awana, 6, (left) daughter of Tech. Sgt. Leora Awana and Alexis Morgan, 3, daughter of Master Sgt. Dave Morgan get matching face paint at the Holiday Open House, Dec. 10, in the 162nd Fighter Wing dining facility. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

Keahilana Awana, 6, (left) daughter of Tech. Sgt. Leora Awana and Alexis Morgan, 3, daughter of Master Sgt. Dave Morgan get matching face paint at the Holiday Open House, Dec. 10, in the 162nd Fighter Wing dining facility. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

Master Sgt. Dave Morgan, 162nd Maintenance Group, picks out toys with his daughter Alexis, 3, at the Holiday Open House, Dec. 10, in the 162nd Fighter Wing dining facility.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

Master Sgt. Dave Morgan, 162nd Maintenance Group, picks out toys with his daughter Alexis, 3, at the Holiday Open House, Dec. 10, in the 162nd Fighter Wing dining facility. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

Tech Sgt. Alicia Archie, 162nd Fighter Wing Family Readiness Group volunteer, arranges toys at the Holiday Open House, Dec. 10, in the 162nd Fighter Wing dining facility. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

Tech. Sgt. Alicia Archie, 162nd Fighter Wing Family Readiness Group volunteer, arranges toys at the Holiday Open House, Dec. 10, in the 162nd Fighter Wing dining facility. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The line of shoppers that formed outside of the 162nd Fighter Wing dining facility here Saturday, Dec. 10, resembled a Black Friday sale, but the toys, treats, face painting and holiday cheer that awaited the crowed inside were all free of charge.

The wing's Family Readiness Group teamed up with Operation Homefront Arizona - a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting military families - to present Tucson's active duty, Guard and Reserve families a Holiday Open House event. More than 600 families participated.

"We had food, cake decorating, face painting, arts and crafts, and Santa Clause was here. People could even get their items gift wrapped," said Debbie Seifert, Tucson representative for Operation Homefront Arizona. "We want to make sure that every military child has a toy for Christmas."

Children and parents roamed isle after isle choosing from an abundance of toys, games and art supplies which were donated through community and business organizations in partnership with Dollar Tree stores.

Several military support organizations were also on hand to support the event and interact with families. They included Tricare, the American Red Cross, Military OneSource, Blue Star Moms, the YMCA, Cakes for Causes, Military Ministries, the Arizona Air National Guard Teen Council, and the National Charity League.

"It was awesome! We saw Santa, got our face painted and did some arts and crafts," said Tech. Sgt. Erica Seehaver who brought her 4-year-old daughter Alyssa. "There were a lot more people here this year than last year."

This was the second year the wing invited Operation Homefront to hold the event on base, said Barb Gavre, wing family readiness coordinator. "Everyone knows about Davis-Monthan Air Force Base - this was just a good opportunity to introduce military families to the Air Guard at Tucson airport. We're proud to host this event for our members and families," said Gavre.

"Barb Gavre is an amazing woman," said Mrs. Debbie McGuire, wife of Col. Mick McGuire, 162nd Fighter Wing commander. "She is a hard worker and makes a lot of things available to our families and children. She's a great resource for the wing."

"I like to see that these kids are able to get gifts for free - and the joy on their faces is worth it all," said McGuire.


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