MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. --
As the days get darker and colder, bright lights of infinite colors populate the night to create the festive atmosphere that is December.
This season, the Malmstrom Air Force Base Airmen and community are coming together for two separate events with the same purpose: giving.
OPERATION 406: The Angel Giving Tree
The Angel Giving Tree came to fruition when a Malmstrom Airman and his wife noticed military families living in a local motel during holiday season. They then voluntarily found ways to provide Christmas gifts for each child.
“We solicited monetary donations from family members, friends and acquaintances,” said Master Sgt. Nathaniel Vallejo, 741st Maintenance Squadron integrated planning cell NCO in-charge. “With the donations we were able to buy two to three gifts for each child that was identified.”
Each gift was wrapped and personally delivered by the Vallejos on Christmas Eve.
“This tradition has followed each year since,” said Vallejo. “In 2018 we opened nominations for children through social media for military families. Each year the amount of nominations have grown.”
With each year, the charity has become more organized and has allowed more children to be identified as needing a special holiday while also providing a way for others to join in and make a personal contribution.
“This year, 20 children were nominated with 40 gifts being donated so far,” said Vallejo.
Currently located in the Grizzly Bend on base is a Christmas tree decorated with tags, listing a child and a gift they would like.
Ages of the recipients range from six months to 15 years of age.
“30 tags were initially placed on the giving tree and all were accounted for in less than two weeks,” said Vallejo. “Gifts for each child will be requested clothing articles and one-to-two toys or age-appropriate gift.”
With some late nominations and tags being picked up faster than expected, more tags have been added to the giving tree.
“The Angel Giving Tree is a conduit for allowing anyone to sponsor a nominated child,” said Vallejo. “Anyone wishing to donate a gift would need to pull the tag and fulfill the requested item.”
When a gift is donated, the Vallejos receive, wrap and personally deliver each gift to the residence provided by nominees.
“The act of giving is near to our hearts,” said Vallejo. “We are appreciative of our situation and wish a warm holidays for those who aren’t as fortunate.”
The Giving Tree
“The idea came from one of our youth whose mother worked at the local children’s receiving home,” said Annjeanette ‘Stevie’ Brown, 341st Force Support Squadron teen and youth programmer. “He wanted a way for the military youth to contribute to (CRH)’s Christmas.
The Children’s Receiving Home provides temporary and emergency foster care to victims of abuse and neglect, varying from newborns to 18-year-olds, according to the official Great Falls Children’s Receiving Home.
“Since it started in December 2010, it gave our military youth a way to help children who are less fortunate than them and also helps them to appreciate what they have,” said Brown.
“We originally started by collecting hats, gloves and socks,” she continued. “Now we take coats, scarves and toys. A huge thank you to our military families for the support they give to our community on and off base.”
In order to donate, individuals can bring items to the Youth Center on base and deposit gifts in a collection box by their Giving Tree. The center will be accepting items until Dec. 23.