Unit volunteers in honor of Make a Difference Month

  • Published
  • By Corey Dahl
  • 21st Space Wing Public Affairs
The Chins Up Center, a local nonprofit, was desperate for office furniture.

A business on Colorado Springs' northwest side needed to unload more than 15 cubicle workstations.

When the two hooked up, the match seemed perfect. The only problem? How to get a large load of cubicle walls, desks and file cabinets across town - for free.

Thanks to a group of Peterson Airmen, problem solved. Roughly one dozen members of the 21st Operations Support Squadron's intelligence flight spent the afternoon of Oct. 5 - Wingman Day - moving the equipment for the Chins Up Center, an agency that provides services for area families and children.

The Airmen took on the chore in celebration of Make a Difference Month, which runs through October and encourages citizens to volunteer in their communities.

"We were looking for a team-building activity for Wingman Day, and we knew it was Make a Difference month," said Master Sgt. Todd Clark, who found out about the nonprofit's dilemma through the Pikes Peak United Way's web site. "We thought it would be a good idea to get out there, help the community and represent the wing."

Helping out wasn't so easy, though. The Airmen spent more than five and a half hours hauling the massive amount of furniture up and down stairs, in and out of trucks - a project much larger than most of unit's members had expected.

"Initially, it was a little bit overwhelming when we saw the quantity," Sergeant Clark said. "And the logistics of it - going up and down stairs, no loading dock - made it a little difficult."

Dani Gates, the center's chart manager, said hiring a moving company for the job would have cost the center about $1,200, valuable funds it couldn't afford to part with. And no volunteers had responded to the center's previous requests for help.

Until Peterson stepped up, Ms. Gates said, the center was afraid it might have to turn down the cubicle donation.

"I can't say enough good things about these Air Force men and women from Peterson Air Force Base," she said. "They are volunteer giants, every one of them."

The Airmen who volunteered for the project are planning to return to the center later this year to check out the office equipment once it's fully assembled. And even though it involved a lot of hard labor, the unit's members said they ultimately enjoyed the project and plan to do more in the future.

"I felt good that we were doing it for the kids," said Staff Sgt. Mario Barillas. "It was worth it."

Volunteers interested in participating in Make a Difference Month can find projects at www.volunteerpikespeak.org