An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

315 AW recruiters help spread holiday cheer at commissary

  • Published
  • By Michael Dukes
  • 315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 315th Airlift Wing’s Recruiting Flight teamed up with the commissary at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina to give gift cards to local military members and veterans.

The recruiters began volunteering in October as baggers at the base commissary and donated their tips to purchase the gift cards for commissary patrons who could use a little extra during the holidays. 

Senior Master Sgt. Tamika Culpepper, 315 AW Recruiting Flight chief, said she felt it was important for us 315th members to give back to our community, especially during the holidays.

“The great team at the base commissary were excited with the idea when I approached them,” Culpepper said. “I’m happy to say that all six members of my recruiting flight contributed.”

“But we quickly learned there was more to being a grocery bagger than just putting groceries in bags.  Shirley Burgohy trained us all on how to do the job,” she said. “They bag the groceries and take them to people’s cars – regardless of the weather. And as essential workers, they even worked during COVID so that we could still get our groceries.”

In addition to training them to do the job right, Burgohy, who is also an Army veteran, donated a portion of her tips to the cause as well as help select commissary patrons who she new could benefit from receiving some of the gift cards. 

“Efforts like this by our reserve recruiters helps all these vets [and commissary patrons] by seeing our current people in uniform giving back to their community, gives them a sense of connection,” said Eddie Williams, Joint Base Charleston Commissary director. “And it’s a joy to have [the recruiters’] assistance during the holidays. It’s a very busy time for us.”

Williams pointed out that it was more than the act of volunteering and giving out gift cards.

“It’s important for our veterans to feel like they are still part of the community by interacting with those who are currently serving in uniform.”

Williams says he knows this because he too is a veteran.  He retired from the Army as a Sergeant Major.  Williams served three tours in Vietnam when he was a young Soldier.

“DECA [Defense Commissary Agency] takes care of our reservists too,” Williams said. He said his staff works hard to ensure that they are able to serve reservists during their unit training

assemblies and mobilizations.

“If we can help put a smile on just one person’s face it’s worth it,” said Ronneta “Pennie” Johnson, JBC Commissary grocery manager and assistant commissary director.

Giving one patron a gift card allowed him to afford a birthday cake for his daughter. 

“When they were checking out at the register one of our patron’s daughter said it was her birthday,” Burgohy said.  When she asked what type of cake the girl was getting, the little girl told her that their family could not afford a cake this year.

The father was caught off guard by his daughter’s candidness.

But Burgohy was quick to respond by giving the father a gift card which he used to buy his daughter a birthday cake.

Burgohy had a proud smile and a twinkle in her eye as she later told this story.

Besides giving gift cards to commissary patrons, Culpepper said she had an offer from Senior Master Sgt. Matthew Mihiylov, first sergeant for the 315th Maintenance Squadron, to combine efforts with the wing’s first sergeant council.

Mihiylov also made a personal donation to the cause. “As first sergeants we are always looking for opportunities to help our wing members – especially during the holidays,” Mihiylov said.

Culpepper said that recruiting will be asking the wing’s first sergeants to determine 315 AW members who will receive the remaining gift cards.

Mihiylov said he and his fellow first sergeants were very happy to help spread a little holiday cheer.

The Wing’s chief’s group also contributed to the cause, according to Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Mong, 315th MXS superintendent.

Besides Culpepper, members of the 315 AW Recruiting Flight included Master Sgt. Jose Gonzalez, MSgt. Jasmine Mills, Staff Sgt. Terrance Hill, MSgt. Matthew Beadling and MSgt. Everett Hopkins.  Their office put in about 12 hours as baggers. Total funds raised was $500.

“The rest of the wing does a great job of taking care of the recruiting flight, so this also a way of thanking the wing for supporting us over the years,” Culpepper said.