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Team JSTARS provides help Family-2-Family for the holidays

Air National Guard Master Sgt. Lawrence Laurine, 116th Air Control Wing (ACW), unloads a box of food donated for the Family-2-Family project, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., Dec. 9, 2011.  The annual project, coordinated by the 116th and 461st ACW, provides food and toys to community and military families for the holidays.  (National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Roger Parsons/Released)

Air National Guard Master Sgt. Lawrence Laurine, 116th Air Control Wing (ACW), unloads a box of food donated for the Family-2-Family project, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., Dec. 9, 2011. The annual project, coordinated by the 116th and 461st ACW, provides food and toys to community and military families for the holidays. (National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Roger Parsons/Released)

Senior Airman Ashli McDaniels, left, and Airman 1st Class Natasha Scott, 116th Air Control Wing (ACW), wrap a toy donated for the Family-2-Family project, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., Dec. 9, 2011.  The annual project, coordinated by the 116th and 461st ACW, provides food and toys to community and military families for the holidays.  (National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Roger Parsons/Released)

Senior Airman Ashli McDaniels, left, and Airman 1st Class Natasha Scott, 116th Air Control Wing (ACW), wrap a toy donated for the Family-2-Family project, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., Dec. 9, 2011. The annual project, coordinated by the 116th and 461st ACW, provides food and toys to community and military families for the holidays. (National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Roger Parsons/Released)

Senior Airman Aaron Wray, left, and Staff Sgt. Robert Gassman, 116th Security Forces Squadron, load a truck with presents donated for the Family-2-Family project, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., Dec. 9, 2011.  The annual project, coordinated by the 116th and 461st Air Control Wings, provides food and toys to community and military families for the holidays.  (National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Roger Parsons/Released)

Senior Airman Aaron Wray, left, and Staff Sgt. Robert Gassman, 116th Security Forces Squadron, load a truck with presents donated for the Family-2-Family project, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., Dec. 9, 2011. The annual project, coordinated by the 116th and 461st Air Control Wings, provides food and toys to community and military families for the holidays. (National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Roger Parsons/Released)

U.S. Air Force Airman from the 116th and 461st Air Control Wings (ACW), Robins Air Force Base, Ga., unload food and toys at Pearl Stephens Elementary school, Warner Robins, Ga., Dec. 9, 2011.  The items were donated through the annual Family-2-Family project coordinated by the 116th and 461st ACW.  The project provides food and toys to community and military families for the holidays.  
(National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Roger Parsons/Released)

U.S. Air Force Airman from the 116th and 461st Air Control Wings (ACW), Robins Air Force Base, Ga., unload food and toys at Pearl Stephens Elementary school, Warner Robins, Ga., Dec. 9, 2011. The items were donated through the annual Family-2-Family project coordinated by the 116th and 461st ACW. The project provides food and toys to community and military families for the holidays. (National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Roger Parsons/Released)

Lt. Col. Gwendolyn Badie, 116th Force Support Squadron commander, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., hugs Mary Harris after presenting her with a check from the Family-2-Family project at Pearl Stephens Elementary school, Warner Robins, Ga., Dec. 9, 2011.  The annual project, coordinated by the 116th and 461st Air Control Wings, provides food and toys to community and military families for the holidays.  A special donation was given to Harris to help with expenses incurred when she lost her home during a fire.  (National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Roger Parsons/Released)

Lt. Col. Gwendolyn Badie, 116th Force Support Squadron commander, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., hugs Mary Harris after presenting her with a check from the Family-2-Family project at Pearl Stephens Elementary school, Warner Robins, Ga., Dec. 9, 2011. The annual project, coordinated by the 116th and 461st Air Control Wings, provides food and toys to community and military families for the holidays. A special donation was given to Harris to help with expenses incurred when she lost her home during a fire. (National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Roger Parsons/Released)

12/19/2011 -- Team JSTARS continued a 25-year tradition with another successful Family-2-Family holiday project this year. More than 80 families received toys and a box of food for the holidays.

The project, spearheaded by Lt. Col. Gwendolyn Badie, 116th Force Support Squadron commander, is a joint-effort coordinated by the 116th and 461st Air Control Wings.

"We are known in Middle-Georgia as one of the largest sponsorship programs for the holidays," said Badie. "The annual project has sponsored, on average, more than 100 children a year since its inception."

Both community and military families are impacted by the annual project. Families in the community surrounding Robins Air Force Base are chosen through the school system and referrals from military members. Military families are referred on a confidential basis through commanders and first sergeants.

The efforts of Team JSTARS, Robins Air Force Base, and the local community came to fruition Dec. 15 as trucks from the 116th Security Forces Squadron pulled up to Pearl Stephens Elementary school loaded with toys and food.

According to Deborah Moore-Sanders, Pearl Stephens Elementary principal, more than 50 children from the school were receiving toys along with a box of food for their families. Parents are given designated times to come and pick up the gifts and they are put under trees as if they are from the parents.

"When the parents come they are overwhelmed," said Moore-Sanders. "We have had families that have lost everything, both parents that have lost jobs, and parents crying knowing that Family-2-Family was providing for their children."

The group from Team JSTARS experienced first-hand the impact of helping others during a special presentation to Mary Harris. Harris, who is currently raising four grandkids and one great-grandchild, recently lost her home to fire.

As Harris entered the Pearl Stephens library, she was surprised by Badie and her team. The surprise only got better as Badie presented the grandmother a check for $1200. Overwhelmed with gratitude, Harris passed out hugs and thanked everyone for their kindness.

"You all really came through for us," said Harris, as she stood with her family by her side.