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Barnes personnel help to grant holiday wishes

Date: 12/22/2008

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

WESTFIELD The current state of the nation's economy has created an even greater need for the generous holiday spirit this year.

The Angel Tree Program at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Westfield has experienced a 30 percent increase in requests for toys this holiday season, according to Kellie Brown, program director at the club. Community partners such as those at Barnes Air National Guard Base have stepped up to fill the need by adopting a larger number of children in the Angel Tree Program.

"The members of the 104th Fighter Wing takes a personal interest in the well-being of the members of this community," Sandy Wakefield, Wing Family Program Coordinator, said. "Our members are always willing to help members of our community who may need our help."

In addition to adopting 34 children this year 10 more than last year the 104th Fighter Wing has sponsored 15 children within their unit. Public Affairs Officer Capt. Matthew Mutti attributed the need within the unit to those who've been laid off from their civilian jobs.

Brown said the majority of children within the program include Legos, Bratz dolls or sleds on their wish lists, while parents request winter clothing.

"They're [Barnes personnel] always so generous," she said. "As usual they've stepped up for me and they truly make their wishes come true."

Brown noted that not only has the Boys and Girls Club experienced an increase in requests for toys but food as well.

"We've helped out more families now then in the past [who are in need of] food," Brown said, adding that the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Westfield will be supplying a complete turkey dinner for 24 families this holiday season. She noted that last year eight families requested food assistance.

"Members of the unit are always eager to participate in events that benefit the folks in the local community," Mutti said. "It's important to build strong ties [between the 104th Fighter Wing and the community especially during these difficult economic times]."

The wrapped presents were delivered to the Boys and Girls Club on Dec. 22 to ensure that they would make the Christmas morning deadline.