DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. --
Davis-Monthan Community Cares, the first half of a two-phase community initiative, kicked off last week when 600 care packages were delivered to families of deployed Airmen here.
This program was developed after Gen. Ronald E. Keys, Air Combat Command commander, directed base commanders to select a month to increase family programs.
"We decided to tailor it to our own needs and break it down into two phases," said Master Sgt. Michael Starkey, Airman and Family and Readiness Center superintendent. "We knew we needed to meet General Keys' initiatives, so the first thing we did was break down a 'phase one' inside the fence line. That's where we came up for D-M Community Cares, and that's where we came up with the programs we are going to do in July."
The care packages, assembled at the AFRC by volunteers from around the base, served as a multi-faceted tool to not only show families they're special, but also to advertise the events for July, said Sergeant Starkey.
"But probably what is most important is that the units are personally delivering them to the families, and at that time, they're able to see how the family is doing," said Sergeant Starkey. "This is a chance to have an eyes-on on the family at their home and say, 'We can help you with other needs, as well.'"
Throughout July, families of deployed Airmen will enjoy free admission to a Sidewinders baseball game, a pillowcase and pajama party, and several other exclusive events.
"The big one is the VIP tent at the Fourth of July event on base at Heritage Park," said Sergeant Starkey. "This tent is solely for families of deployed Airmen."
Inside the tent, families will have a chance to take a family photo and to create a Fourth of July greeting card for their loved one, which will be mailed free of charge to the Airman at his deployed location. The tent will also offer air conditioning and a deployment-based video starring Elmo for the children.
Families can receive VIP treatment again July 10 when the base theater will play an advanced screening of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."
"It's going to be here a week before it's released in the local area," said Sergeant Starkey. "We're going to encourage (the families) to dress up. Some of the AFRC staff members are going to be wizards that night."
The Commissary Shopping Extravaganza is scheduled for July 15 after regular commissary hours. This two-hour event will offer families special deals, children's entertainment, and giveaways, including a grand prize - a new washer and dryer.
Tucson Community Cares, the second half of this effort, will serve as an outlet for the base to share its story with Tucson, while providing Tucson a way to show its support for the base.
"In the past, the community has offered much support for the wing here, but many times we don't know how to accept their offer and make it a reality inside the gate," explained Sergeant Starkey.
"We want to be able to accept the support that they're willing to give the base. Then we want to tell them how that helped, and just tell the cyclical story that goes with that."
Tucson Community Cares is still in its infant stages, but it is expected to launch later this year.
"We hope we're setting the benchmark," said Sergeant Starkey. "Every family at every base, when their loved one is deployed, is a special family. We just want to do our part to show them they're special."
to see a calendar of D-M Community Cares events.