Festive Wright-Patt tradition completed in two days

For the first time in its 18-year history, the annual Airmen’s Holiday Cookie Drive at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base took two days to complete, but the base’s unaccompanied and single Airmen didn’t complain.

The original scheduled date of Dec. 5 was only slightly affected by the national day of mourning for President George H.W. Bush.

The longstanding tradition has been held following Thanksgiving, with volunteers baking, dropping off and packaging thousands of holiday-themed and regular goodies into boxes destined for hungry – and grateful – Airmen. This year the event amassed 28,000 cookies.

A packing-the-boxes event was held Dec. 6, too, at the USO Community Center, Bldg. 1222, Kittyhawk Center, Area A, where cookies were dropped off. Bakers had the option of delivering their contributions to the Prairies Chapel, the National Air and Space Intelligence Center and Wright Field Fitness Center. Drive organizers had hoped to get enough cookies to feed more than 1,200 Airmen, and that was more than accomplished.

First responders from the 88th Security Forces Squadron and the Wright-Patterson Fire Department, and guests at the Fisher Houses also benefited from the event. Airmen visiting the USO were able to take some cookies, too.

Staff Sgt. Jazmyn Turner of NASIC said she chaired the cookie drive because she has been a single Airman at Wright-Patterson AFB and remembers what that was like.

“I came to Wright-Patt in 2015. One day there were cookies on my desk. …. I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “That was wonderful. Now I’m married to Staff Sgt. Rahgeen Turner and joined the Enlisted Spouses’ Group.

“I’ve been involved for several years now. I like seeing how excited the Airmen get when they receive free cookies,” Turner said. “It’s awesome.”

She said contributing dozens of cookies she has baked, listening to holiday tunes on packing day and greeting other volunteers puts her in the holiday spirit.

“Despite having to overcome a few different obstacles, the people on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and other members in the local community were able to come together and make this another successful year,” Turner said. “I love seeing everyone come together and put in the time to bring a bit of happiness to our little Air Force family.”

Lindsay Smallegan, wife of 2nd Lt. Kiffin Smallegan, a nurse at the Wright-Patterson Medical Center, said the pair just arrived on base from northern Michigan. She was excited about snow finally arriving at the base and helping out at the cookies event, she said. She baked dark chocolate cookies decorated with red and green M&Ms.

Capt. John Ryan McGrath, new officer in charge at the Kittyhawk Pharmacy, delivered an assortment of cookies his mother-in-law, Noni Bennett, baked.

“My mother-in-law baked these, and she worked pretty hard. She really takes to volunteering for the military and I’m really proud of her,” he said. “She moved here when we came, to be around my wife and kids, and she is such a blessing to us and others.”

First sergeants picked up the cookies the day after the box assembly and delivered them by the end of the week, either placing them on the recipient’s bed or workplace desk.

The cookie drive was sponsored by the Wright-Patterson Enlisted Spouses’ Club, Wright-Patterson Officers’ Spouses’ Club, First Command, First Sergeants Council, United Service Organization of Central and Southern Ohio and the City of Fairborn.

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