LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas –
Joint Base San Antonio has come together to show its generosity with cash donations to relief agencies in support of the Haiti earthquake disaster.
The two installations currently under the 502nd Air Base Wing, along with Fort Sam Houston, have combined to raise $42,397.
Team Lackland collected $16,782, Team Randolph $12,243 and Team Fort Sam Houston $13,372 through designated service offerings.
Chaplain (Col.) Carl Andrews, 502nd ABW chaplain, said Team Lackland's response from permanent party, technical training and basic military training to aid in the relief effort was impressive.
"Every branch donated; every branch says, 'those people are really important to us, we care about them and we want to help as quickly as we can,'" Chaplain Andrews said. "And there was a very strong response by the roughly 5,400 from BMT last Sunday (Jan. 24). The trainees were as generous and serious as everybody else."
The money raised by each Team Lackland chaplain branch was from one weekend's collections.
The individual branches researched Haiti relief agencies before making a selection and forwarding the money.
"(All the money) is from the pockets of the men and women in uniform and their dependents," said Senior Master Sgt. Doug Onwiler, 502nd ABW chaplain corps superintendent.
"Each one of those branches was very careful to make sure the money went to an agency that didn't have high administrative overhead so the majority of the funds actually went to relief."
When the magnitude of the earthquake and its victims became apparent, Team Lackland began rallying to support relief efforts.
The branches decided a designated offering was the fastest avenue.
But money wasn't the only thing they wanted to send.
"The chaplains and chaplain assistants are beating on the door saying, 'when can we deploy to help?'" said Chaplain Andrews.
"We're not talking about ones and twos; we're talking about staffs."
He said the only responses for chaplains and assistants are going through Air Force Special Operations Command in direct support of combat controllers.
"We have not been asked or tasked," Chaplain Andrews said.
But Sergeant Onwiler and Chaplain Andrews summed up JBSA's response appropriately.
"I think the men and women at Team Lackland, Fort Sam Houston and Randolph all understand to not do anything ... we just couldn't," Sergeant Onwiler said. "Everybody's digging deep."
And Chaplain Andrews quickly added, "We care, we love and we wanted to respond."