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168th Wing Rising 6 helping Interior Alaska

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Julie Avey
  • 168th Wing

As the hustling and bustling of the holiday season began, the 168th Wing Rising 6 Airmen organized a drive gathering donated items and gifts for the Nonprofit Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent Living. The idea started with Rising 6, the enlisted Airman organization wanting to give back to their community.

"The Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent Living said it was good timing because they were setting up a shop for parents to come in and choose items for their kids for the Holidays - We didn't know," said Staff Sgt. Amberylynn Cristostomo, 168th Wing Force Support Squadron.

The 168th Wing donated over 1600 items, including hygiene products, toys, clothing, shoes, baby items, formula, and non-perishable food.

"It is really people from the wing – way more than I expected," said Crisostomo. 

Tech Sgt. Tiffany Colburn agreed, "It was a wing effort. People bought stuff just for it – Diapers and brand-new toys. We had so many people asking what they could do and when we needed it - so many people were interested right when we sent it out."

The Rising 6 Airmen worked hard to distribute the information and unite the wing.

"It was Senior Airman April Dishneau's idea to get the squadrons involved this year," said Crisostomo. "We made blankets last year for our community in need, and as the Rising 6 organization, we try to give back as much as we can."

Dishneau said, "My reason was simple: I love helping people. Christmas can become so depressing for people, especially when they are going through a life crisis."
The Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent Living provides programs to intervene and prevent domestic violence, sexual assault, suicide, and other violent crimes that negatively impact our community and surrounding interior villages. They offer 24/7 confidential support and are just a phone call away.

"Unfortunately, I have domestic violence up close, not me but someone I love," said Dishneau. "As the vice president of Rising 6, I wanted to do something for the community that was heartfelt and made all of us feel proud to be part of such a great committee." 
The Rising 6 is an organization within the wing for ranks from Airman Basic to Tech Sgt. to make a difference in the wing and community.

"All the items listed in the flyer and donated were the items requested – needed," said Crisostomo. "I love it because it is for all age ranges. I know that was a big question when the email first went out: if they need items for only kids, they bought for all ages. It makes me happy because sometimes I feel the older kids are left out. There were brand-new Nikes in there. I can't get over that. I was impressed with all the types of items – look at all the baby stuff donated as well."

The drive was a team effort, with Rising 6 Airmen leading the wing, with each member having a role in distributing boxes and flyers and delivering the gifts.

"We feel lucky we get to be a part of it, and it was nice to see everyone come together to make a difference," said Colburn.

Crisostomo agreed, "It was exciting. Of course, when we saw all the items, it was a bit overwhelming, but I was excited at the turnout and how everyone was willing to contribute. Maintenance ended up making their own flyer to get their people involved. Everyone helped drop off their items to us."

"We talked to people we had never spoken to in the wing before," said Colburn.