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A tradition of giving, the 107th way

107th members stand in front of Community Missions in Niagara Falls during a donation drop off on December 16.

107th members stand in front of Community Missions in Niagara Falls during a donation drop off on December 16.

Roger Clark and Dale Selbert bring food donations into the Community Missions on December 16.

Roger Clark and Dale Selbert bring food donations into the Community Missions on December 16.

Jeannie Mang helps pass donated clothing down the line during a drop off to the Community Missions in Niagara Falls.

Jeannie Mang helps pass donated clothing down the line during a drop off to the Community Missions in Niagara Falls.

Steven Buja brings a bag filled with toys just in time for the holiday.

Steven Buja brings a bag filled with toys just in time for the holiday.

Niagara Falls, NY -- Twenty years later the 107th's annual Community Missions drive is still going - and growing strong.

Each year 107th members come together to find new and creative ways to donate to the Community Missions of the Niagara Frontier, a local mission that offers emergency crisis housing, a division for troubled youth, a clothing closet, and a soup kitchen for those in need.

The drive first began in 1988, according to Bob Broeker, a retired senior master sergeant. Broeker said he took it upon himself to get members together to begin collecting donations for Community Missions. The senior master sergeant would continue the drive at the beginning of the holiday season for the next five years, with help from other 107th members.

In 1993, members donated clothing and raised $556 to purchase food for the mission, which included 11 turkeys. Though 1993 was Broeker's last Community Missions drive with the 107th, other members continue his spirit of giving.

In October, the 107th began collecting new and gently used clothing, canned goods, toys and household items for the mission. The drive picked up speed in November in the dining facility where Airmen could purchase anything from a traditional Thanksgiving dinner side item like stuffing or mashed potatoes to an entire turkey dinner for a family of four. These imaginary food items were priced beginning at $1 and went up depending on the food choice. The money raised was then used to purchase real food items for families in need.

Members also had the opportunity to donate by picking an ornament off of a "giving tree". Each ornament on the giving tree had a gift wish on it from adopted families in need. The member who took the ornament had the choice to purchase the gift or make a monetary donation towards the gift.

The 2008 drive collected approximately one thousand pounds of clothing and raised approximately $1800 which was used to purchase food donated to the mission. All of the items including the wrapped gifts for the adopted families were dropped off to the mission.

Broeker said he is thrilled that the 107th is still collecting for the mission 20 years later, because there is a need for it.

"I'm glad the 107th members are doing their part," said Broeker.