Airmen reach out to children's home in Lithuania

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Torri K. Larson
  • 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
More than 20 Airmen from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, volunteered their time and talents with Lithuanian children Nov. 15 at the District Vijurkai Children's Home in Vijurkai, Lithuania.

The Airmen, deployed from the 48th Fighter Wing, are in Lithuania to perform the NATO Baltic air policing mission, and took time out to play sports, do puzzles and eat pizza with the children. 

"We wanted to give something back to the community," said Master Sgt. Margaret Williams, the 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron first sergeant. "The primary reason we go to the children's home is that they appreciate the time we spend with them. The kids get a lot of individualized attention."

This is the second time 493rd EFS Airmen have visited the children's home since their arrival here in October. They expressed their enjoyment and their enthusiasm to return soon.

"It's a blast. I love it," said Senior Airman Kayla Gasaway, a 493rd EFS weapons loader. "It's great to see the looks on their faces and just how happy they get." 

She said a part of her wishes she could take one of the children home with her.

For this visit, Airmen brought basketballs and soccer balls for the children to play with and keep. They also brought pizza and "dancing shoes" to entertain the children.

The Airmen are also raising money to donate needed items to the Siauliai Apskrities Sutrikusio Vystymosi Kudikiu Namai Children's Home, which houses only infants. They are working with the community back at RAF Lakenheath for a diaper drive. They will deliver any donations as soon as they're received here.

"We want to let them know we care," Sergeant Williams said. "We don't just take, take, take; we enjoy giving back to others and helping those who need it."

Sergeant Williams said they try to schedule the visits during different shifts so everyone can have the opportunity to visit the children's home.

"We're going to give them gifts at Christmas," Airman Gasaway said. "If I'm allotted the time to go, I'll definitely be there."

Sergeant Williams said each child will receive individual gifts at Christmastime. The Airmen plan to have a traditional, American-style Christmas with the children. An "angel tree" will be put up in the detachment here and Airmen will be able to pull a name off the tree and buy gifts for that child.

"These kids don't care what you bring them," Sergeant Williams said. "They just like having someone to spend time with. When you see the look in their eyes, it makes it so hard to leave."

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