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Supporting the mission, sending Christmas cheer

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Tech. Sgt. Alesia Leggett, the NCO in charge of force management with the 136th Force Support Squadron, repacks a shoebox filled with toys, school supplies, and clothing to forward to children in war-torn countries around the world for Operation Christmas Child 2017 Nov. 18, 2017, at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, TX. Operation Christmas Child is an annual program that provides gifts for children in more than 100 counties. (Texas Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Kristina Overton)

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Tech. Sgt. Alesia Leggett, 136th Force Support Squadron NCO in charge of force management, adds a label to a shoebox being shipped in support of Operation Christmas Child 2017 at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, TX, Nov. 18, 2017. Each box was customized for either a boy or girl in a specific age range, and was filled with approximately $20 worth of items. (Texas Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Kristina Overton)

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Tech. Sgt. Alesia Leggett, the NCO in charge of force management with the 136th Force Support Squadron, repacks a shoebox filled with toys, school supplies, and clothing to forward to children in war-torn countries around the world for Operation Christmas Child 2017 Nov. 18, 2017, at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, TX. Operation Christmas Child is an annual program that provides gifts for children in more than 100 counties. (Texas Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Kristina Overton)

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Maj. Nathan Tucker, a chaplain with the 136th Airlift Wing, thanks the morning chapel service attendees for contributions to Operation Christmas Child 2017 at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, TX, Nov. 19, 2017. Collaboratively, the wing filled more than 75 boxes clothes, school supplies, and toys to send a message of hope and love to children in more than 100 war-torn countries around the world. (Texas Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Kristina Overton)

Fort Worth, TX -- Tis the season for giving, and what better than to give to those in need?

To spread some holiday cheer, members of the 136th Airlift Wing supported Operation Christmas Child 2017. The program, sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse, encouraged individuals to fill shoeboxes with toys, school supplies, and clothing to forward to children in war-torn countries across the globe. Collaboratively, the wing filled more than 75 boxes to send a message of hope and love to those in need for Christmas.

“This is the first year the 136th Chapel family has taken part in Operation Christmas Child,” said Maj. Nathan Tucker, a chaplain with the 136th Airlift Wing, “but I’ve known about this program for more than ten years. There was a young man who played in the band for a ministry I served with in North Fort Worth. He grew up in war-torn Bosnia, and as a child he was the recipient of one of these boxes. To this day, he still has a scarf that he received and that experience changed his life. Our chapel service here can’t accept funds, but we can encourage others to spread a message of love by sending a gift and a prayer of a blessing at this special time of year.”

The chapel team collected the shoeboxes for six weeks. Each box was customized for either a boy or girl in a specific age range, and was filled with approximately $20 worth of items. The boxes were then shipped to children from more than 100 countries. This year, a concentration of presents were also expected to be sent to hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico.

Tech. Sgt. Alesia Leggett, the NCO in charge of force management with the 136th Force Support Squadron, made giving back a “family affair” and inspired her children to take part in the process.

“It’s important because there are children in the world who don’t have everything that we do,” said Leggett. “We bought gifts to send to a little girl, and my sons helped pick out the toys, clothes and books. I had my boys go with me to choose the gifts so they would know and understand what it means to give back. I always remind my children that the things that come easily to them don’t happen the same for everyone, so they should always share what they have—to give, always give.”

Operation Christmas Child is an annual program that has been in effect since 1990. Outside of the program, the Samaritan’s Purse, a non-denominational evangelical Christian organization established in 1970, has been helping meet the needs of victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease and famine by providing spiritual and physical aid.

“Without question, people from any and all faith backgrounds benefit when they reach beyond themselves and give,” Tucker said. “Even for folks who may seem discouraged or depressed during the season, I would still encourage you to reach beyond yourself and find that gift of giving really returns the greatest blessing to the giver.”