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Giving back: McConnell’s first virtual Angel Tree

Staff Sgt. Bradlee Brown, 22nd Force Support Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of community commons, poses for a photo Dec. 17, 2020 at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. In efforts to alleviate financial burdens for some local families, Team McConnell successfully completed its first virtual Angel Tree under Brown’s lead. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Senior Airman Nilsa Garcia)

Staff Sgt. Bradlee Brown, 22nd Force Support Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of community commons, poses for a photo Dec. 17, 2020 at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. In efforts to alleviate financial burdens for some local families, Team McConnell successfully completed its first virtual Angel Tree under Brown’s lead. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Senior Airman Nilsa Garcia)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan—After a year of unexpected hardships and the holidays fast approaching, Staff Sgt. Bradlee Brown, 22nd Force Support Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of community commons, found a way to bring holiday cheer to families of Sedgwick County through McConnell's very first virtual Angel Tree.

 

The Angel Tree program allows military members the opportunity to donate gifts to families in need during the holiday season and alleviate some of the financial burdens that have been amplified by the ongoing pandemic. Under Brown’s lead, Team McConnell was able to safely assist families in need and sponsor 40 children virtually to receive gifts.

           

"So many people are out of work right now due to COVID," said Brown. "They're struggling to keep the lights on."

 

This is an experience that, as a child, Brown was all too familiar with.  A Kansas native, Brown grew up in poverty and personally received gifts through the Angel Tree program.

 

"It was the best gift I ever got," said Brown. "It definitely makes you appreciate the small things."

Now, as an adult and father himself, it means the world to give back to the community that supported him and his family as a child.

 

"I'm a Wichitan," said Brown. "I have a personal connection to the whole community out there."

 

In these challenging times, Brown is thankful to have stability through the military, and he encourages Airmen to find ways to give back while still limiting contact and risk of exposure.