Airmen play Santa Claus at local children's home

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Torri K. Larson
  • 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Amidst the new snow that blanketed the countryside, children's laughter could be heard pouring out the windows of the Kelme District Vijurkai Children's Home Dec. 19, here. 

Airmen from the 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, supporting the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission here, brought holiday cheer to the children's home in the form of personal gifts, sweets and affection during a Christmas party planned by the squadron. 

"I've been going to see the kids since I got here, and I wanted to see the smiles on their faces when they got their presents," said Senior Airman Hannah Parker, 493rd EFS weather forecaster. "These kids don't get a lot of people wanting to spend time and money on them so their smiles are so big when they get a gift or receive a hug from someone. It's heartwarming." 

Airman Parker was one of more than 100 Airmen who donated time and money for the party. An Angel Tree was set up in the squadron with 41 angels representing the children in the home. Each angel had the child's name, age and shoe size. Each child received a pair of shoes and many other gifts from the Airmen here. 

"I enjoy spending time with the children," said Tech. Sgt. Kenya Meyers, 493rd EFS aviation resource manager. "I feel blessed that I'm able to give something back." The two angels she picked are sisters living together in the children's home. 

According to Master Sgt. Margaret Williams, 493rd EFS first sergeant, shoes were chosen because the children didn't have the best footwear and, with the changing weather, they were going to need something to keep their feet warm. 

The Airmen here also bought new desks for the children's homework and study room, a new stereo for their common area and several games and toys for them to share. 

"My favorite part of the Christmas party was handing out presents and the little dance party I had with my two little friends afterwards," Airman Parker said with a smile. 

This wasn't the first time the 493rd EFS Airmen have visited the children's home. They have made several group and individual visits during their three-month stay in Siauliai. 

"I believe it's important to reach out to the community where ever we go because it improves our relationship with foreign countries, it keeps us busy on our off time and It's just a good thing to do. Who doesn't like to help people and see a smile because of your efforts?" Airman Parker said. 

As the party drew to a close, and children's laughter grew fainter with the fading light, the Airmen here headed for their hotel rooms and bunks, which they would be calling home this holiday season. With smiles on their faces, they braved the teeming snow and looked back at the little faces pressed against the glass and the waving children they've come to know and love.