Selfless service: 911th AW family donate masks, food, money to those in need

  • Published
  • By Joshua J. Seybert
  • 911th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

As the American rock band called the Foo Fighters sings, “It’s times like these you give and give again.”

The media has circulated stories from all over the country during the COVID-19 pandemic of people lending a helping hand to their neighbors. People all over the world have been coming together to do what they can to help out their fellow community members and try to do their part.

911th Aeromedical Staging Squadron Nurse Capt. Geoffrey Abner and his wife Sharon are a prime example of this. The couple made cloth masks for multiple organizations, including the 911th Airlift Wing and members of their own community, while asking for small donations in return.

“Making the masks was an easy decision for us. I can sew and there was a need,” said Sharon. “Initially, we made masks for the Allegheny General Hospital staff. Then word spread, and people in our community needed them as well.”

So far, the Abner family has made more than 800 masks at their own dining room table. The masks, which are helping members in the community stay safe, have brought in donations that help other community members with food and other essential items.

“We have all been affected by COVID-19. Some have lost their jobs, children have been taken away from their schools, and it is not even safe for families to come together,” Sharon said. “Sewing masks has consumed a lot of our time. However, if something as simple as a mask can help one person feel safe, it is absolutely worth it. Giving the donations to be sure people will have food on their table is the reward.”

Along with donating food and supplies to families within their community, the Abners also donated food to a local food bank, gave some money to the Community College of Allegheny County for a program that provides financial assistance to students in case of emergencies, and even were able to donate groceries to the 911th AW First Sergeant’s Association food drive.

“When we saw the post on Facebook about the food drive at the 911th [AW], it was only natural to donate as much as we possibly could,” Sharon said. “Nobody should go hungry but especially those who have served or are currently serving our country.”

The 911th AW First Sergeant’s Association food drive was designed to benefit military members and veterans in need within the local area, as well as the Veteran’s Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania, an organization that helps homeless veterans.

“This pandemic is something most people have never seen before, so we wanted to make sure that everyone--military, civilian, dependent or veteran--was taken care of and the Abners stepped in and absolutely blew us away with their kindness and generosity,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jessica Davis, 32nd Aerial Port Squadron first sergeant. “Thanks to Sharon and Capt. Abner, a lot of people will have food in the cupboards for a long time. We can’t thank them enough for what they have done.”

Although the food drive has already ended, there are still ways you can get involved and help, whether you reach out to a first sergeant on base and help them with the Needy Airman Fund or find ways to volunteer in your local community.

“Know that we are all in this together. There are people who can help you and there are people who could use your help,” said Sharon. “No matter how big or small, every one of us can make a difference.”