***image1***What started out as a request to adopt a few children from a Polish mission for Christmas turned into a small support operation for the 2nd Air Support Operations Squadron Firehawks out of Würzburg.
“We found out there were many more children at the center,” said Lt. Col. Joseph Dill, 2nd ASOS commander. “So we took them all and made this into something bigger.”
Elim Christian Center, Lwowek Slaski, Poland focuses much of its effort on local ministry programs, which include feeding and clothing programs, according to the center’s Web site. The center provides lunch to local school children, which is the only meal most of those children have each day, said Colonel Dill.
“Many of the Airmen who came with us were taken aback,” said Colonel Dill. “This area was off the beaten path in Poland, and only four hours from us. They didn’t realize there was this type of poverty so close.”
The Firehawks stepped up and provided lunch for the school children – hot dogs, soda, American chips and candy bars – and ended up cooking for a large turnout of children, nearly double the number the center usually sees at lunch.
The Firehawk team spent the rest of their time at the center repairing toys, stripping paint and pulling up flooring in three of the 250-year-old building’s rooms, preparing it for the center’s future needs.
“We were able to knock out in one afternoon what may have taken months of the center’s spare time,” said Senior Master Sgt. Russell Hastings, 2nd ASOS first sergeant.
In addition to lunch and repairs, 2nd ASOS Airmen prepared 30 Christmas bags for some of the local children. The 15 girl and 15 boy bags didn’t have the typical toys many children would expect to see at Christmas.
“What we provided in the bags were what we would consider necessities – soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes – but these children think of these items as gifts,” said Colonel Dill.
The bags also included stationary, barrettes and diaries for the girls, and travel and shave kits for the boys.
***image2***During their visit, Airmen also made a difference in town, as well.
“A young lady from the group was in town and saw two small children washing windows, which is what they did to provide income,” said Colonel Dill. “She gave them €10 each, and the children were so happy, they put down their squeegees and just walked away. That money was probably more than they saw in a month.”
The Firehawks plan to visit the center again this summer to provide lunch and help the center build rooms. Colonel Dill knows the upcoming visit will be as successful as the last.
“Kindness and a smile always translates where ever you go,” said Colonel Dill.