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Airmen, fellow Kandahar partners receive holiday stockings
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- A Royal Air Force service member opens her stocking at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Dec. 21, 2011. Chaplain (Capt.) Kevin Humphrey, a 451st Air Expeditionary Wing chaplain, and his team of volunteers received more than 3,400 stockings to give to fellow Airmen and coalition partners at Kandahar. (Courtesy photo)
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Airmen, fellow Kandahar partners receive holiday stockings

Posted 12/31/2011   Updated 1/1/2012 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. David Carbajal
451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

12/31/2011 - KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Chaplain (Capt.) Kevin Humphrey is not what you would call a social media fanatic. He is nowhere to be found on the top 10 most followed Facebook users list. However, when he posted a simple Facebook status several weeks ago, he sparked an unusual response from friends and followers.

"In about a month, people have sent us more than 3,400 stockings for us to give to our Airmen," Humphrey said.

The idea of providing stockings for deployed troops is not a new concept, with several nonprofit organizations offering to mail filled stockings to service members worldwide.

"I heard about people back in the U.S. who wanted to mail stockings to wounded warriors and I thought that was a great idea," he added. "But then I thought this would be a great way to cheer up everyone during the holiday season."

"Once I put the information out there that people could send us stockings, we received an overwhelming amount of boxes from the generous people back in the states," the chaplain added.

The chaplain received more than 10 boxes filled with stockings and stocking stuffers each day during the peak of the stocking shipments. To date, the chaplain received boxes from donators from nine different states and Japan.

With the sheer number of received packages, the chaplain began soliciting for volunteers to assist him in the project. He quickly had several willing and able aids that helped carry in the boxes from the mail distribution truck, opened and inventoried the box contents, and stuffed stockings with additional stocking stuffers from other boxes.

"I jumped at the opportunity to help," said Capt. Sandra DeFazio. "I wanted to help spread the holiday spirit throughout the base."

DeFazio assisted in the project by opening and inventorying the boxes and stuffed stockings to ensure all stockings contained similar items.

"Once we had enough stockings for all of our Airmen, we worked the chiefs and first sergeants to help distribute them to everyone," said Humphrey.

Stockings were also sent to Airmen assigned to other locations throughout southern Afghanistan.

"I was very surprised to see people take time out of their busy schedules to inject some holiday cheer into our hearts," said Yonatan Holz, a recipient of a stocking.

Even after distributing the stockings to Airmen on base, the chaplain and his assistants still had more than 800 left. So they looked for others to provide stockings to.

"We distributed the extra stockings to orphan children living in the green zone outside of base," said Holz. "We all shared a good tear and laughter."

Even after that, more stockings were available.

"With so many left over, we decided to give some to our coalition partners," the chaplain said.

The chaplain and his assistants provided about 250 stockings to the British and the Australians each, the chaplain said.

"After that, we still had about 400 stockings left. So, we took them to the boardwalk to hand them out," Humphrey said.

At the boardwalk, the chaplain and his aides gave out stockings to Spaniards, Slovakians, Bulgarians and Romanians.

"We wanted to provide a small token of appreciation for their sacrifices," said Humphrey. "They help fight this war right beside us, so it was an honor to give them something in return."

After the distribution of all 3,400 stockings, the chaplain has many things to be thankful for.

"I owe a special debt of gratitude for all the volunteers who helped especially Doctor Michael Rouland, Captain Sandra Defazio, Senior Airman Corey Hook, Staff Sergeant Carlos Gomez and his army of volunteers and Chief (Master Sgt. Paul) Pellow," the chaplain said. "This was truly a joint effort by so many people and would not have been successful without all of these people and so many more."

With the success of this year's event, several stateside donating organizations have already started making plans to send more stockings for the 2012 holiday season.

"I believe that this is just an example of the generosity of the American people," the chaplain said. "They've given us so much and continue to support us. It's truly a blessing."

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