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WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Thanks to donations from on- and off-base supporters, the First Sergeant's Council received donations to make 300 Thanksgiving baskets for Airmen in need. (Courtesy graphic)
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Holiday donations 'FLOCK' to Whiteman

Posted 11/15/2012   Updated 11/15/2012 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Danielle Johnston
442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

11/15/2012 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Three hundred Whiteman families will enjoy a hot, hearty Thanksgiving meal this year because of the efforts put forth by base supporters and community members.

The First Sergeant's Council began organizing a Thanksgiving food drive and basket donation in October.

When the first sergeants started calling companies to get an estimate for 300 turkeys and Thanksgiving supplies, some were discouraged by the prices they were receiving - upwards of $13,000. When word spread of the trouble they were having, Lori Taylor, wife of Master Sgt. Willis Taylor, who was deployed at the time, decided to make a few phone calls.

Taylor, who grew up in North Carolina, lived on a farm before becoming an Air Force spouse. She first called her parents to see if they might have any connections in the industry.

"I was just hoping we could get a good deal on purchasing some turkeys," Taylor said.
"But then I found out an organization was going to donate the turkeys - and deliver them right to Whiteman, and I was shocked!"

Dave Witter, manager of corporate sustainability and communications for House of Raeford, Raeford, N.C., received the request. House of Raeford, a poultry distributor, developed a non-profit ministry called FLOCK in 2011. FLOCK (Faithful Love Offering for Christ's Kingdom) distributes resources to help meet the needs of the local community.

"We look for other organizations that are doing good things, and we partner with them," Witter said. "By partnering with other organizations who already know the needs of their communities, we help them to have a greater impact."

This isn't the first time FLOCK has provided thousands of turkeys to support the troops.
Witter said the organization routinely provides turkeys and chickens to disabled-veteran organizations and the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg, N.C., but this is the first time they have sent birds to the Midwest.

"Although we had never met, we knew (Lori Taylor's) mother because she has grown chickens for us for years. We always try to help our growers, and this was a great cause, so we had to help."

First Sgt. (Master Sgt.) Trapper Otto, Communications Support Squadron, said the turkey donation, along with a collaborative effort from on and off-base organizations, has made this a great year for the Thanksgiving basket program.

"I was amazed how generous FLOCK was by providing free turkeys, and paying for the transportation from North Carolina all the way to central Missouri." Otto said. "These aren't just free baskets to make someone feel better. This program relieves the burden of the holidays for some of our younger Airmen who have families."

The Thanksgiving baskets will be distributed to all Airmen in need, regardless of the status or branch of service - active, Reserve or National Guard. First sergeants will collect names and prioritize which Airmen will receive the baskets.

Otto said there are many organizations to thank for the generous time and money put forth to support Whiteman families.

For more information or to make a donation, Airmen may contact their first sergeant.

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