AFNWC raises almost $3,500 for local schools

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. William Duran
  • AFNWC Public Affairs
Members of the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center raised thousands of dollars in donations this month for Albuquerque elementary schools. They also surpassed the amount donated in 2016 by nearly 600 percent.

They delivered school supplies to Kirtland, Wherry and Mission Avenue elementary schools. These three schools are considered Title-I schools, which means there is a 50 percent or above rate of lower-income families whose students attend the schools. In 2016, they raised $600 in supplies for the schools. This year they raised a substantial $3,500 in supplies.

The AFNWC program, nicknamed “Operation Backpack,” was led this year by 1st Lt. Christiana Fairman, an operations research analyst, and 2nd Lt. Billie DeLuca, a nuclear physicist. 

“Even though some of us may not be from New Mexico, or have children in the schools here, it was amazing to see how willing everyone was to give to the community. Seeing firsthand the gratitude each of the schools had when we delivered the supplies made me extremely proud of our organization,” Fairman said.

Operation Backpack was started in 2016 when Patricia Pettit, a process integrator, found backpacks on sale and brought two dozen into the office to see if her co-workers would help her fill them with school supplies. 

“This year Ms. Pettit really went above and beyond, she proved to be the heroine of the program,” said Michael Martinez, AFNWC’s Nuclear Technologies and Interagency director. “She offered to match the cash amount donated on the third of August. Also a generous amount of the total came from 1st Lt. Elliot Myers, an aircraft nuclear systems engineer.” 

First Lt. Rachel Oliver, thermal systems engineer, also stepped up and helped the program by leading the fundraiser at the Air Force Research Laboratory here at Kirtland. She and her unit contributed $300 worth of school supplies.

“All these Airmen, military and civilian, embody our United States Air Force core value of service before self,” Martinez said.

The group is confident they will get other organizations and individuals involved next year to extend the program’s reach and bring greater awareness to helping students at Title-I schools obtain supplies that their families might not be able to afford otherwise.

The AFNWC is responsible for synchronizing all aspects of nuclear materiel management on behalf of Air Force Materiel Command in direct support of Air Force Global Strike Command. Headquartered at Kirtland AFB, the center has about 1,100 personnel assigned to 17 locations worldwide.