NORFOLK, Va. --
The 149th Fighter Squadron, Virginia Air National Guard, partnered with the Amber Ox Public House to collect over 600 toys and donate them to the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters on Dec. 18, 2018, in Norfolk, Virginia.
CHKD collects toys from numerous organizations and individuals throughout the local area and distributes them on Christmas Eve to patients and their families.
"We serve the entire family," said Shannon Hood, Chaplaincy and Child Life manager at CHKD. "This donation is truly generous, and I see a lot of infant and toddler toys. Right now, we have a lot of infant and toddlers in our hospital and this is going to serve our families really nicely."
The theme this year is Polar Express. Volunteers dressed as elves will be wrapping the presents given to the patients and family members.
"It is great to give back to the community and help out however we can," said Andrew Voss, owner of Amber Ox Public House and 149th FS honorary commander. "You see the line of people walking in with their kids and I have two young children, so it’s great that we have the opportunity to brighten a day on an otherwise not so bright day when you’re sitting in a hospital on Christmas."
Voss became the 149th FS honorary squadron commander in June 2018. He is the first to hold the distinction since the squadron moved to Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, in 2007.
"All the fighter squadrons I have been in on the active duty side have always had an honorary squadron commander," said Lt. Col. Michael Schaner, 149th FS commander.
Voss has a family history with the military, a professed affection for flight operations and an interest in charity work. Schaner interviewed several candidates and ultimately chose Voss. Shortly thereafter, plans were laid for their first combined charity effort.
"They came up with the idea," continued Schaner. "Andrew from Amber Ox put on a big event in Williamsburg that was a charity drive. They had a bunch of bands; vendors and several restaurants came out there."
On Dec. 1, 2018, dozens of breweries set up craft beer tasting tables on the lawn of the Colonial Williamsburg Art Museum in Williamsburg, Virginia. About 25 Airmen from the 149th FS took shifts running a booth at the event exchanging toys for tickets which were redeemable for free food, drinks and other items from vendors.
"We had over 1500 people attend the event and overwhelming support" said Voss. "I think we collected over 600 toys, in addition to $1,450 in donations accepted, that we matched as a company for their benefit. CHKD is a great organization, and it was a good event."
As it is stated in the 192nd Wing mission statement, we seek to participate in local, state and national programs that add value to the U.S. in a community capacity. This great example from the 149th FS is in line with many community partnership and charity efforts that happen throughout the year all across the VaANG.