Operation Homefront donates stocking stuffers to 911th AW families

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Marjorie A. Bowlden
  • 911th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The holiday season can be a crazy time for many. Whether searching for the perfect gift or suffering through the increased traffic as people head home for the holidays, stress levels can easily spike, especially for those families with young children.

In an effort to reduce this stress for military families, Operation Homefront recently donated thousands of small toys to serve as stocking stuffers for families of the 911th Airlift Wing who are having a difficult time this year.

“I always like to say that we should put it out there and let the members and their families determine what they need,” said Master Sgt. Frank A. Sigmund, education and training manager with the 911th Force Support Squadron and current head of the program on base. “If we offer a program like this, I know the ones who need it will come forth. It’s a labor of love.”


Operation Homefront is an arm of Toys for Tots, an organization run by the Marines to give Christmas gifts to children who are less fortunate, said Sigmund. However, Operation Homefront is designed specifically to support military communities and families during deployments and other times of hardship.


The base has taken part in the program for several years, but became more active around three years ago, said Sigmund. Last year alone, over 2,000 small gifts were given to military families. This year, there were over fifty participants on the first day.


“It’s a good morale booster, and I think morale is one of the most important things in the military,” said Tech. Sgt. Lee Crusa, client systems technician with the 911th Communications Squadron, who picked up a few small gifts for his daughter. “It can help out some families who can’t necessarily buy as much, and this way they can participate in a more general program and not feel embarrassed by asking for help.”


With the amount of Airmen deployed and the workload still left to do, leaders like 911th Force Support Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Brett Dorey could have easily said that it just wasn’t doable this year, said Sigmund. However, he has received an enormous level of support from the wing commander on down through the chain of command.


“Without that support, I’m pretty sure that the program would have dropped off this year,” he said.


Donations are given to Operation Homefront at different stores within the greater Pittsburgh area, said Sigmund. Whether it’s a small toy given to brighten a child’s holiday or a simple dollar donated at the register, every act of kindness and service matters.


“We owe a world of debt to all those people who kindly donated an extra dollar, which translates into another toy into the box for military members and their families,” he said.


Crusa agrees with Sigmund, adding that the support given from the local community is felt by every member of the wing.


“Not a lot of communities have this kind of support,” he said. “Pittsburgh and our surrounding community have been amazing. If it wasn’t for the surrounding community and the support from the businesses and the people… who knows where we’d be?”