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OKC allows Vandenberg opportunity to serve children

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE Calif. -- Airman 1st Class Dallas Cole prays with 
Ana Ventura from Santa Maria at Operation Kids Christmas held at the Pacific Coast Club. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Antoinette Lyons)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE Calif. -- Airman 1st Class Dallas Cole prays with Ana Ventura from Santa Maria at Operation Kids Christmas held at the Pacific Coast Club. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Antoinette Lyons)

The "Year of Leadership" takes place from September 2008 to August 2009. (U.S. Air Force graphic)

The "Year of Leadership" takes place from September 2008 to August 2009. (U.S. Air Force graphic)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Vandenberg hosted 200 underprivileged children from the local community to take part in the annual Operation Kids Christmas.

OKC is allows Team V members the opportunity to open up their hearts and give back to the people who are supporting them in myriad ways.

"This program is great because it allows people to not only give, but to know that a child is going to have a meaningful Christmas because of the hard work they are putting into this program," said Col. Reni Renner.

The event brings in children from the community and gives them an opportunity to play games, see a magician, meet Santa and enjoy the companionship of military members.

The children are met at the main gate by 30th Security Forces and the 30th Civil Engineer Fire Department. They are then escorted to the Pacific Coast Club to be introduced to their volunteer escort, who will be with them for the rest of the event, said Capt. Erik Montenegro, 381st information manager.

Children do not receive their Christmas presents at the event. While the children are under the supervision of their military escort a separate bus is driving to their homes delivering Christmas gifts that the children will open on Christmas. The cost of the entire operation was over $25,000 with a large portion of the donations coming from Texas Blow Out.

"The event is very well orchestrated," Colonel Renner said. "We have a great team to organize everything from the 381st and wonderful support from Team Vandenberg."

It takes a large number of volunteers for OKC to run smoothly. However, this is an event where the volunteer is receiving more than they give.

"It would be hard to spend time with these children, see what this event means to them, and not walk away feeling like a program like this makes a difference," Colonel Renner said. "It's just a great opportunity."

Team Vandenberg members interested in volunteering should keep watching as this event is a year round process to include planning and fundraising.