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Commissary hosts exclusive shopping event for deployed Airmen’s families

Children of deployed D-M Airmen play together at the commissary here July 15 during the "Shopping Extravaganza" organized by the 355th Mission Support Group, the Airmen and Family Readiness Center here, and the commissary staff. The event, which was part of the  D-M Community Cares program, attracted more than 500 spouses and children and featured discounted food, prize giveaways and a play area where children could be supervised while their parents shopped. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jamie Coggan)

Children of deployed D-M Airmen play together at the commissary here July 15 during the "Shopping Extravaganza" organized by the 355th Mission Support Group, the Airmen and Family Readiness Center here, and the commissary staff. The event, which was part of the D-M Community Cares program, attracted more than 500 spouses and children and featured discounted food, prize giveaways and a play area where children could be supervised while their parents shopped. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jamie Coggan)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Approximately 500 spouses and children of deployed Airmen attended the "Commissary Shopping Extravaganza" here July 15.

After the idea was raised at the 355th Mission Support Group, the commissary teamed up with the 355th Services Squadron here and the Airmen and Family Readiness Center's D-M Community Cares program. The store stayed open an extra two hours to host an exclusive shopping night for deployed families.

Jerry Copenhefer, the store director, said "We called up a bunch of businesses and told them we needed some prizes for deployed families, and the response was amazing."

There were free food samples and many giveaways including sleeping bags, ice coolers, two bicycles, six barbecue grills, and remote-control cars. The grand prize was a new washer and dryer set. More than $800 in gift checks was donated by the commissary's industry partners.

Everyone received a ticket when they came in, and the numbers were called out as tickets were drawn. There was also a quiz-show word game set up for another chance at winning a prize.

While the parents shopped, their children could color, watch movies or play a mini-basketball game under the supervision of store and base volunteers. The kids could also earn prizes, such as basket balls and stuffed penguins, by making four shots in a row.

"More than half of the deployed Airmen's families showed up," said Mr. Copenhefer. "It was an outstanding outcome. All in all, it was a very special evening that my staff and I were proud to be a part of."

Just for the two-hour event, the commissary featured special discounted pricing on a large variety of items.

"The really amazing thing about the event was that the families stuck around even after they finished shopping. It really was just as much a social gathering as an exclusive shopping night," said Heidi Meisterling, AFRC's community readiness consultant.