Hill Air Force Base airmen bring Christmas to foster kids

Dec 13, 2023, 6:16 PM | Updated: Dec 14, 2023, 7:49 am

DAVIS COUNTY — There are over 2,000 children in foster care in Utah, and believe it or not, some worry Santa Claus won’t know where to find them. But it’s something that dozens of airmen from Hill Air Force Base are looking to fix.

“It’s indescribable. It makes you feel really good,” said Master Sgt. Mikael Cunningham.

Cunningham has worked with Utah Foster Care to organize the event for 10 years and helped organize it for the last seven.

“Every single year, it’s probably about 200 hours of my time getting people, raising gifts. Getting people to bring the gifts in,” Cunningham said.

Master Sergeant Mikael Cunningham loading in gifts inside a truck.

Master Sergeant Mikael Cunningham loading in gifts inside a truck. (KSL TV’s Mike Anderson)

Utah Foster Care and the man in the red suit depend on them to bring Christmas to foster families. The toys that are given out were donated by people, businesses and community groups.

“Makes me know that there’s still good in people in the world that we live in right now,” said Tech Sgt. Bobbi Clark. “And it’s just amazing to see everyone come together and all the gifts.”

Tech Sgt. Bobbi Clark in the car and ready to go.

Tech Sgt. Bobbi Clark in the car and ready to go. (KSL TV’s Mike Anderson)

Anna Gibson, who works at the Utah Foster Care Ogden office, said it’s about so much more than things.

“It gives them an idea of a place that’s that they’re connected to someone that is a friendly face that might be away from their own home as well,” Gibson said.

And that connection is a big part of what keeps the airmen returning to volunteer. Cunningham said they become part of the family, at least for a moment.

“It’s a wonderful thing. The interaction with them, the stories of what they’ve gone through,” Cunningham said.

Sandy Holbrook (left) with Cunningham (right).

Sandy Holbrook (left) with Cunningham (right). (KSL TV’s Mike Anderson)

The event also allows foster parents, like Sandy Holbrook, who deal with some difficult situations, to get some relief.

“And the day that you guys came, I had no idea what was happening,” Holbrook said to Cunningham. “And for that moment, it was like, OK, there are good people who do good things. And I can continue doing what we’re doing.”

Holbrook said what the airmen bring doesn’t come in a bag or a box.

“The amount of hope that they brought into our home that day reminded me that I wasn’t alone. We weren’t facing this alone,” she said.

It’s why so many airmen, parents and volunteers feel like this event must continue every year.

“You just want to continue doing it until it gets taken away from you,” Cunningham said.

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Hill Air Force Base airmen bring Christmas to foster kids