BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Some Keesler Air Force Base personnel took on a different mission this holiday season; playing the role of Secret Santas. They adopted angels from a Biloxi school and fulfilled their Christmas wishes. On Tuesday, the parents came to the school to pick up the presents.
Their faces lit up as the parents saw the gifts on the table, all wrapped up and ready to put under the tree.
"I'm so happy. It's a big help for me and my family. I know the kids will be really excited," said Tracey Price.
The piles of presents came from members of Wing Staff Agencies at Keesler. The organization worked with Jeff Davis Elementary School to identify families in need. The names of 34 children and their biggest wishes were placed on an Angel Tree at Keesler.
"We wanted them to dream big in case the possibility is there that the adoptee families could afford to buy some of those items, and we were really excited that this year, eight bicycles, an Xbox 360, four tablets, cell phones. Whatever was on their list was pretty much fulfilled, so that is a complete blessing," said Chaplain John Boulware, who coordinated the program.
"Oh, they're going to be excited. They're going to be happy. It means a lot," said Ashley Yeager, who picked up gifts for her three young children.
"I think it's wonderful. I appreciate it very much. We just moved here and hadn't been able to find a job since I got here, so it was great," said Yeager.
Keshawn Bridges can't wait to see her son and daughter's reactions on Christmas morning.
"She's always wanted a tablet, so she'll be happy. My son, he wanted the Elmo, Tickle me Elmo, so he'll be excited, and I'm thankful," said Bridges.
"I truly didn't know it was going to be that wonderful. I teared up at the beginning, tried real hard not to cry throughout the entire time," said Jeff Davis Elementary Principal Dr. Melanie Nelson.
The gifts are worth about $4,000 in all, but the joy they bring to the children will no doubt be priceless.
"I am absolutely amazed. As a parent myself, you delight in seeing your children wake up and see their dreams under the tree of what they really wanted, and so hopefully, these children are going to be able to do the same thing, because those wish list items were fulfilled," said Boulware.
"Merry Christmas y'all! Thank you," Yeager shouted to the volunteers as she left the building.
The Keesler Angel Tree program started last year when 18 children received gifts. The program helps the base form a stronger bond with the community, plus, many members have children who attend schools in the district. Next year, the organization hopes to expand the program to other schools in Biloxi.