Holiday Adoption program a great success

GOODFELLOW AFB, Texas -- Holidays are a fun time of year, especially Thanksgiving which focuses on giving thanks, friendship, warmth, welcoming and much more. However, this can also be a trying time for many military members who do not have the opportunity to spend time with family and friends because of limited resources or time. This is what led to the establishment of the Home for the Holidays Adoption program.

The program was established by the 17th Training Group, to allow all service members an opportunity to enjoy Thanksgiving Day with local families and conversely allow many local families to befriend service members who are unable to make it home for the holidays. This year, Goodfellow had over 80 local families volunteer to adopt anywhere from 2 to 50 service members into their homes. There were approximately 160 service members who graciously took advantage of this opportunity and ended up having a phenomenal time. Many wonderful treats were enjoyed to include, pumpkin and apple pie, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, salads, sweet corn, yams, sweet potatoes, and let's not forget some mouth watering turkey injected with many kinds of flavoring. Many servicemembers stated they had a positive experience because the families' welcoming attitude put them at immediate ease. For many others, the simple act of being with a wonderful family gave them the feeling of home that overcame any sense of loneliness and separation. Many members enjoyed the activities offered including horseshoe, football and board games. Others saturated their minds with new traditions. Overall, the service members had a wonderful time and stated they would participate again if afforded the opportunity.

Through the program, Army Pfc. Lucas Barber spent the holiday with extended family members from San Angelo whom he had never met. He hails from Memphis, Tenn. and completed basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo., in October. Pfc. Barber spent the day with his mother's cousin, Mary Kay Kuss and her family. He enjoyed getting to meet an extended family that he wasn't even aware of until he arrived at Goodfellow. The Kuss family appreciated the opportunity to adopt Pfc. Barber and the opportunity to support our military personnel.

"We believe our military personnel at Goodfellow greatly deserve support and recognition for protecting the freedoms we all enjoy and sometimes take for granted," said Mary Kay Kuss.

Likewise, the local families enjoyed hosting the service members and providing their hospitality to the young men and women of our Armed Forces. It was an enjoyable time where the local community had the opportunity to learn a little more about the training at Goodfellow and most importantly, meet some wonderful people. Many families stated they were thrilled to have the servicemembers over and were impressed with how polite and openhearted they were. They really enjoyed socializing and getting to know them on a more personal level. Their company was so much enjoyed and bonds were created that some have "adopted" the service members for the duration of their time here at Goodfellow. Many are appreciative of what the Armed Forces do for their country and cannot wait to participate in the program again next year.

The bond between Goodfellow and the San Angelo community created long ago strengthens every year through the kindness, generosity and willingness that the community has for the base and likewise the base for the community. Holiday Adoption has added another dimension to the ties that bring us together and will only solidify those ties even more in years to come.