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D-M Community Cares in action at Fourth of July celebration

Airmen and their families look on as fireworks shoot over Heritage Park here during the Fourth of July celebration. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christina D. Ponte)

Airmen and their families look on as fireworks shoot over Heritage Park here during the Fourth of July celebration. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christina D. Ponte)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- More than 80 families of deployed Airmen took part in the second event of the D-M Community Cares program in the Fourth of July VIP tent here at Heritage Park.

The Officer's Spouses Club, Chapel Congregation Offering, D-M's chiefs' group, wing Command Chief's enlisted funds, and the Airmen and Family Readiness Center worked together to create and fund the program, which hosted its first event in June when volunteers made 600 care packages and delivered them to families of D-M's deployed Airmen.

"The VIP tent was set up to show deployed Airmen's families that they are a special part of the Air Force mission and provide them with an opportunity to get out and enjoy themselves," said Master Sgt. Michael Starkey, superintendent of the AFRC.

For one of the activities, the families could have their photos taken in front of an American flag and create a photo-card to send to their deployed family member.

"The children had a blast coloring, pasting stickers and writing letters to their deployed parent at the create-a-card station," said Heidi Meisterling, the AFRC's community readiness consultant.

The families were also treated to popcorn and a short Sesame Street movie called "Talk, Listen, Connect: Helping Families During Military Deployment," starring Elmo.

At another station, family members could show their American pride by getting a patriotic tattoo and wearing red, white and blue glow-in-the-dark bracelets. There were several other patriotic giveaways including American flag magnets, key rings, and a lollipop tree with red, white & blue suckers.

An information booth was also provided with various deployment handouts for adults and children.

At the end of the evening, many of the families gathered on the porch area of the tent to watch the fireworks together.

"It well exceeded our expectations," said Sergeant Starkey. "All of the volunteers were overwhelmed with thanks."