Guardsmen bring Christmas to the N.D. Veteran’s Home

  • Published
  • By Capt Penny Ripperger
  • 119th Wing Public Affairs
On Wednesday, Airmen and Soldiers of the North Dakota National Guard will load vehicles full of presents and military volunteers to make their annual trip to the North Dakota Veteran's Home in Lisbon, N.D. delivering presents and good cheer to retired military members and spouses.

The North Dakota Air and Army National Guard alternate the coordination of this popular event each year. Master Sgt. Glenda Edwardson and Tech. Sgt. Tracy Zidon, of the 119th Wing, organized this year's gift drive for the Veterans.

"Often the items on the Veteran's wish list are everyday-type items like clothing, shoes or toiletry items and sometimes it's the only gift they receive," Edwardson said.

"The Veterans typically ask for so little and they are so grateful when we come visit them. It is by far a favorite event for the unit each year," Zidon said.

Several military members have gotten to know the Veterans and pick the same person each year and some Airmen, such as Senior Master Sgt. Wade Swenson, have an even closer bond with Veterans in Lisbon.

"A former coworker and Happy Hooligan that retired about 10 years ago is at the Veteran's Home in Lisbon," he said "This year a group of us who used to work with him when he was in the unit decided to sponsor him. It will be nice to see him again and remind him that his Hooligan family is thinking about him."

North Dakota Air and Army Guard members began fundraising for the event in October. Many members bought gifts for the Veterans or donated money toward the cause.

The 119th Wing Chaplain's office also helped raise funds by sponsoring a coin drive competition against the different squadrons in the unit.

"The squadron with the most weight in coins won the contest, but the catch was if you donated paper money, you could steal coins from another squadron. It was a lot of fun and very successful," said Tech.Sgt. Chadwick Hanson, 119th Wing Chaplains office.

Once the gifts were bought and gathered, the 119th Wing Family Support Group gathered volunteers to wrap all of the presents. This year the group wrapped more than 100 gifts.

"This event is special not only because it brings together so many different areas in the National Guard for a good cause, but it also connects us with military Veterans who served before us," Edwardson said.

"Coordinating this event is definitely a rewarding experience. To see their faces when we come to visit them and hear their stories is the best present of all," Zidon said.

Media is invited to attend any part of this event.

For specific questions or requests regarding this press release, please contact Capt. Penny Ripperger, 119th Wing Public Affairs Officer.

B-roll footage and hi-res photos are available upon request.

Schedule of events:

7:30 a.m - load presents into vehicles at the 119th Wing, N.D. Air National Guard (1400 28th Ave North, Fargo, N.D.)

8:00 a.m. - depart for Lisbon.

9:45 a.m. - arrive at Lisbon Veteran's Home
(1400 Rose St, Lisbon, ND 58054)

10:00 a.m. - tour of facility

11:30 a.m. - lunch with Veterans

1:30 p.m. - pass out gifts/social

3:00 p.m. - depart for Fargo

2007 Veterans Home photo captions:

Lisbon Tangen: Senior Master Sgt. Paul Tangen, N.D. Air National Guard, helps unload presents for Veterans at the North Dakota Veterans Home in Lisbon, N.D. on December 19, 2007.

Lisbon Johnson: Chief Master Sgt. Paula Johnson, N.D. State Command Chief, hugs a Veteran at the North Dakota Veterans Home in Lisbon, N.D. on December, 19, 2007.

Lisbon Fontaine: Staff Sgt. Larry Fontaine, N.D. Army National Guard, hands a gift to a Veteran at the North Dakota Veterans Home in Lisbon, N.D. on December, 19, 2007.