Security Forces Squadron support Operation Santa Claus
By Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 07, 2013
PORTLAND AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ore. -- During the last 10 years, Operation Santa Claus, hosted by KPAM 860 Radio personality Bob Miller, has helped raise money and awareness for military veterans in need throughout the local area during a five-day telethon. This year, ten members of the 142nd Fighter Wing Security Forces spent their Friday morning taking pledges over the phone.
The telethon supported the Salvation Army's Homefront War Relief Program and is directed by Kimberly Pettina over the last six years.
"Serving the military is my passion and those people that serve with passion are why I love this job," said Pettina.
The program helps deployed or recently returned Guard and Reserve personnel and their families from Oregon and Southwest Washington make ends meet in financial emergencies.
The money raised is donated to military families throughout the year and 100 percent of the money goes to direct support. Payments for rent, utilities, insurance, and other bills are paid directly from the program and often Pettina can process the paperwork in three to five days.
"It's a three-minute application process and last year we helped nearly 200 service members and their families with assistance," said Pettina.
Families often turn to the Salvation Army's program after they have depleted unemployment benefits or during other financial emergencies.
The day for this year's telethon was appropriately fitting for the fundraiser; a cold snowy morning had traffic backed up throughout most of the city. One caller, who was stuck in traffic, phoned in a challenge pledge for $100 for "anyone stuck on I-5 because of the weather."
As the morning pledges continued, the weekly total came to more than $110,000, with most of the money raised on Friday setting a single-day record of more than $47,000.
"I look forward to working on the telethon every year," said Master Sgt. Christopher Rich, 142nd Fighter Wing Security Forces Squadron, Unit Deployment Manager.
When not answering the phones, several of the 142nd Security Forces Squadron members went on air with Miller to talk about their own past deployments.
Answering a question from Miller about the programs impact, Rich said, "I know that this program has impacted members of our own unit directly."
Other members of the 142nd Fighter Wing who helped with the telethon this year include: Master Sgt. Jason Schroeder, Master Sgt. Matt Kochosky, Tech. Sgt. Shawn Potter, Tech. Sgt. Devin Boise, Staff Sgt. Matthew Meartz, Staff Sgt. Joseph Cubias, Senior Airman Lacey Bieker, and Senior Airman Justin Yoshimura.