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Reservists raise money for Kyrgyz orphans

  • Published
  • By Tech Sgt. Heather Skinkle
  • 940th Wing Public Affairs
Security Forces' reservists from California filled some of their free time during a recent overseas deployment by volunteering at an orphanage.

The dozen or so members of the 940th Security Forces Squadron at Beale AFB were assigned to the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyz Republic. An orphanage near it receives food and shelter from the Kyrgyzstan government, but no maintenance allowance is included so the reservists worked to replace some of the heavily worn furniture via Cops for Kids, a charitable organization started by a chief master sergeant at Manas in 2011.

"All of the funds raised went to providing basic necessities to nearby care facilities, an orphanage and mental health facility for young children and teenagers," said Tech. Sgt. Shawn Painter, who spoke about his deployment experience at at an Air Force Reserve Yellow Ribbon Program training weekend April 26-27 in Arizona.

He was joined at the event by Senior Airman Sebastian Brown from his squadron. The Air Force Reserve Yellow Ribbon Program promotes the well-being of reservists and their families by connecting them with resources before and after deployments. Painter and Brown said they learned a lot from the event's breakout sessions, especially enjoying the nutrition and resume information.

During their deployment, 940th SFS members raised more than $5,000 through donations and on-base fund-raisers selling wrist bands and keepsake coins.

"The orphanages buildings are run down," Painter said. "We replaced the old beds that were giving some of the kids back problems and bought new outdoor benches and tables for their recreational area."

When SFS members toured the orphanage, they were shocked to discover a broken pipe that left the orphanage without running water. After Painter left, the remaining security forces worked to arrange for deployed civil engineering Airmen to fix the pipes to restore the orphanage's water supply, but he said he isn't sure if the logistics worked.

"When traveling, I realize how great it is to be an American," Painter said. "I don't ever take necessities like running water, shoes, food or shelter for granted."

During an off-base trip, the reservists bought fruit and pastry at the local bazaar to deliver to the children but upon arrival at the orphanage discovered they were away. Their Kyrgyzstan driver suggested they deliver the supplies to a local children's mental health facility, Painter said.

"I was grateful for the chance to be a compassionate, positive influence in their society," Painter said. "If I was on receiving end, I would appreciate it."

Brown said he also felt especially blessed to serve others besides in his security role and became involved with the charity early on in his deployment.

"I like helping the less fortunate, especially kids who can't help their situation," he said.
Other security forces' professionals showed the children a KC-135 Stratotanker and M-249 rifle during a base tour.

"The kids were happy and excited to see something they hadn't seen before," said Brown, who at home has volunteered at a Sacramento, Calif., homeless shelter, Loaves and Fishes, by preparing and serving food. He also volunteers at a St. Vincent de Paul thrift store to help clean and organize the food and clothing items.