349 AMW Airmen volunteer for Operation Teddy Bear

  • Published
  • By U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Daniel Peterson
  • 349 Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Reserve Citizen Airmen, from Travis Air Force Base, California, participated in the long-held holiday tradition known as Operation Teddy Bear this past week from December 5-9.

Operation Teddy Bear is an annual event where volunteers from the 349th Air Mobility Wing visit local area elementary schools bearing gift bags with toys, games, and school supplies.

“Operation Teddy Bear has been a part of the 349 AMW's history for over 25 years,” U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Rafael Hernandez, 349 AMW first sergeant, said. “It has allowed us to connect with our local communities, who we are not only a part of, but who support us.”

One of the schools visited was Linford L. Anderson Elementary, located in the city of Dixon, where some of the volunteers had personal connections, whether it be grandkids enrolled there, or a spouse on the faculty. A student, whose father is currently deployed, personally thanked the volunteers for their service and for coming to their school.

“I appreciate all of the servicemembers coming out just like our kids look forward to it,” said Rayito Farris, the principal at Linford L. Anderson Elementary. “I think it is just so good for them to get a little something.”

Farris said she loves seeing members of the 349 AMW getting involved and supporting the schools near Travis AFB. She expressed that having members of the community in uniform arrive with Santa can leave a lasting impression on the students.

“It really is giving back to the community that the servicemembers live in,” Farris said. “I think that is even more powerful for the kids to see.”

With another successful Operation Teddy Bear mission in the books, this time-honored tradition will live on to be enjoyed by the children, teachers, and 349th Airmen alike.

“This tradition, that we get the privilege of being a part of, is one of the many reasons I am proud to wear my uniform,” Hernandez concluded. “As we move forward, we can only try to make Operation Teddy Bear better for the future and continue to show our appreciation for our local communities.”