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Arnold AFB Junior Force Council collects 57 meal baskets for local families

Once again, Arnold Engineering Development Complex team members at Arnold Air Force Base stepped up and helped ensure that dozens of area families had what they needed to prepare Thanksgiving meals.

The Arnold AFB Junior Force Council Thanksgiving Food Basket Drive recently concluded after collecting food items for a week in November. A total of 57 baskets were provided for Coffee County families in need of food for the holiday.

“Thanksgiving is the time when we’re supposed to be thankful for what we have and give to those in need,” said Arnold JFC Secretary Deidre Moon. “What a way to start off the holiday season!”

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Food collected during the drive was taken to the Arnold AFB Chapel where it was sorted into baskets. On Nov. 16, the assembled baskets were loaded to be dropped off for distribution.

Leading up to loading of the filled baskets, collection boxes were located in several building across the base for those wishing to donate nonperishable food items to the drive.

“As always, base personnel and members of the Junior Force Council really showed up in support of the JFC Thanksgiving Food Basket Drive, and we had another successful year,” Moon said. “It’s awesome that 50-plus Deerfield Elementary students will be receiving Thanksgiving food items, and I am glad we could support the local community in this way.”

The Thanksgiving Food Basket Drive has occurred at Arnold for a number of years. It began when members of the Coffee County Backpack Program for Deerfield Elementary School reached out of the Arnold JFC about collecting food items for the holiday.

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The Backpack Program is a local charity providing food for students who may not have provisions during difficult economic times. Through the program, children in need of food receive a backpack with enough food to feed them through the weekend every weekend of the school year. As an extension of the Backpack Program, the Thanksgiving Food Basket Drive is meant to provide enough food to prepare a Thanksgiving meal for the child’s family.

This year, the JFC received a helping hand from the Arnold AFB Company Grade Officers’ Council. The CGOC organizes the Arnold Engineering Development Complex Turkey Trot race held each year prior to Thanksgiving at Arnold. This year, the Turkey Trot took place on Nov. 7. Race participants are not charged an entry fee but instead are asked to bring a nonperishable food item for donation. This year, food collected from Turkey Trot entrants was donated to the JFC for its Thanksgiving food drive.

“The JFC appreciates the support from the CGOC,” Moon said. “Thanks to their help, we were able to provide even more food to families in need.

“We also want to thank everyone who donated to the food drive. We continue to be amazed by the support the drive receives and are grateful so many at Arnold donate to this cause each year.”

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The JFC provides the junior workforce at Arnold with professional development opportunities and serves as a conduit between the junior workforce and senior leadership.

Disclaimer: The Junior Force Council and Company Grade Officers’ Council are private organizations which are not part of the Department of Defense or any of its components and have no governmental status.

Arnold Air Force Base team members Joel Nalin, left, and Will Garner load food baskets assembled during the Arnold AFB Junior Force Council Thanksgiving Food Basket Drive for distribution Nov. 16, 2023, at Arnold AFB, Tenn. Throughout the drive, Arnold AFB team members donated nonperishable food items to be used for the baskets. This year, 57 baskets were provided for Coffee County families in need of food to prepare Thanksgiving meals. (U.S. Air Force photo by Keith Thornburgh)

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