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Volunteers Help Kids Learn All About Safety U.S Air Force Base RAF Mildenhall, UK

by Amber J.

“Is it important to wear a helmet when riding your bike?” asked Captain Andy Sisler of the 492nd Fighter Squadron. A resounding “YES!” came from a group of excited children crowded around a helmet demonstration where Captain Sisler strapped a ripe cantaloupe into a bicycle helmet and dropped it from 20 feet in the air. Of course the melon came away unscathed. That is until they dropped it without it wearing its helmet – and then, splat!

Captain Sisler joined more than 20 volunteers at RAF Mildenhall to help the American Red Cross Station teach kids common safety tips at the 2009 Kids Safety Day held in late August. Kids Safety Day was a project designed to teach kids about safety, as well as get the RAF Mildenhall community involved and volunteering over the summer, as part of President Obama’s “United We Serve” initiative. United We Serve kicked off on June 22 and ran through September 11, which was marked for the first time as a National Day of Service and Remembrance.

By September 11, RAF Mildenhall volunteers logged more than 200 volunteer hours over and above what station volunteers normally log each summer through a series of four projects: Leaders Read, Kids Safety Day, Paint the Town, and Building a Veterans Garden. During Kids Safety Day, service members, civilians, and family members from all across the base volunteered to set up fun and informative stations for the children to learn about blood safety, first aid kits, fire escape plans, helmet safety, and more.

First Lieutenant Natalie Winkels of the 351st Air Refueling Squadron even brought along her three year old Shih-Tzu, Gizmo, to help demonstrate pet safety. “Seeing the kids get excited about having a live animal to interact with reminded me of my four-year-old niece, and it was a lot of fun watching their faces and seeing how interested they were in the demonstration,” said Lieutenant Winkels. “Kids Safety Day was a fun and easy way to get involved with the base. Serving your community is beneficial because by taking time to volunteer, you can make a difference in other people's lives which is a very positive reward.”

SSgt Christion House, Distribution Supervisor in the 100th LRS Fuels Flight, chose to volunteer to show children how to correctly apply bandages to their arms without touching any blood and how to help out a friend. “It’s important to teach our young people the point of teamwork and how to foster community cohesiveness,” said Sergeant House. “Serving this community provides accomplishment and belonging. My wife and I just arrived here to Mildenhall, so it’s a great way for us to start settling in.” One of RAF Mildenhall’s American Red Cross Station’s main goals through participating in the United We Serve initiative is to do just that.

“By tagging on to the President’s initiative and encouraging service this summer, we have engaged people in community service work to help make it a part of the everyday lives of all Americans with a hope that they will make an ongoing commitment to each other, their communities, and volunteer work throughout their lives,” said Holly Harper, Station Chair for the American Red Cross Station at RAF Mildenhall. “We hope that projects, such as Kids Safety Day, have increased the quality of life for all who participated and raised awareness of all types of volunteer activities on RAF Mildenhall and how they contribute to the fabric of our community.”

The American Red Cross Station at RAF Mildenhall has continual availability for volunteers throughout the year. For more information, call DSN 238-2107 or 01638 542107 or email red.crossV3@mildenhall.af.mil.

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