By Contributing Editor Blair Drake
The Luke (Ariz.) Chapter donated 1,000 canned and packaged food items to local servicemembers and their families ahead of Thanksgiving. The effort was in support of the annual Turkeys for Troops food drive, which provides turkeys, desserts, and sides for a Thanksgiving meal to airmen and their families at Luke Air Force Base struggling to make ends meet. The food drive is run by the base First Sergeant Council, who selects the recipients based on need. This year, the effort benefited approximately 100 recipients.
The chapter has been supporting the food drive for nearly decade. “When we first started out, we donated about 250 items,” said Rev. Maj. Fannalou Guggisberg, USAF (Ret), chapter chaplain. “It has really grown over the years.” She pointed out the need has also grown, and inflation and supply-chain issues this year are adding to the challenges many families face during the holidays.
In addition to chapter members donating food items, the chapter used funds from a Community Outreach Grant from The MOAA Foundation to purchase 60 $25 commissary gift cards that were given to families with exceptional need.
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“The first sergeants are very appreciative of us doing this,” said Guggisberg. “When they saw just how much we had collected, they were overwhelmed.”
Supporting the food drive is important to members of the Luke Chapter, said chapter President Lt. Col. Dennis DeFrain, USA (Ret). “It brings our members together when working on such a worthwhile cause,” he said. “Our members really enjoy helping these young families, and the first sergeants repeatedly tell us how much these young families appreciate the assistance.”
Guggisberg said one recipient commented how this was the first base she had been at that something like this was being done, and she was very grateful.
“Sometimes people are just stretched thin,” said Guggisberg. “Our chapter feels very strongly about supporting the needs [of both veterans and active duty servicemembers]. Where there is a need, we try to meet it.”
Blair Drake is a contributing editor for MOAA and lives in Souderton, Pa. She previously served on the editorial team of Military Officer magazine for nine years.