Team Holloman’s Big Give

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Anthony M. Ward
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
Team Holloman's annual Big Give event kicked off its fourth season at the Raptor's Nest here July 15.

Since 2008, Team Holloman has hosted the Big Give program as a way to give back to the local community. During the program, participants form teams and select a project to undertake which they believe will benefit the community.

"Big Give is a competition to give back to the community that Holloman actually pioneered back in 2008," said Amanda Gallagher, 49th Force Support Squadron marketing director and Big Give project director. "It was an idea inspired by shows like Extreme Home Makeover and Oprah's Big Give. I knew it was something the Force Support Squadron could facilitate."

Gallagher, intrigued by television programs aimed at benefiting others, brought the project to Holloman and the surrounding area. And, the program has been a major success ever since.

"I'm kind of persistent when I get an idea," said Gallagher. "So I kept telling my leadership at that time, 'We can do this!' and finally they said, 'Then do it!' And thus began Big Give."

With leadership approval, it was time to get the ball rolling in the community.

Gallagher made a visit to Desert Sun Motors where she spoke with Brandon Burling, manager of Desert Sun Toyota, and mentioned the idea for the program.

"I wasn't looking to get a sponsor when I went to Desert Sun," said Gallagher. "I was there discussing with them a sponsorship for another event when Brandon asked me what else was going on at the base. I said, "Well, we've got this new thing...' and the rest was Big Give history."

As she returned to her office, Gallagher received an email from Burling saying Desert Sun would donate a $2,500 prize. She then received a call from Toyota, who heard about the project and doubled the prize money. This funding allowed them to begin the first season of the program with a $5,000 prize.

"I've always been humbled that I could throw out an idea onto the table and that the leadership at Desert Sun would support the idea without any prior history of success," said Gallagher. "It's just one more way I'm assured that our Alamogordo community is supportive of the Holloman community."

Following Big Give's first year, Robert Martinez, owner of Desert Sun Motors, said it was the best investment he had ever made, and committed to spending $10,000 for the following year, according to Gallagher. The program has given away a $10,000 prize to the winners of Big Give every year since.

Program sponsors are not the only ones who see how beneficial the program can be, as Gallagher made it clear she is passionate about it.

"My favorite part of Big Give is watching this phenomenon happen where people go from being selfish to selfless," said Gallagher. "Where what I do for you is greater than what others are doing for me. It changes your attitude and puts everything into perspective."

Because of the diversity of career fields in the Air Force, there are various ways those participating in this program can benefit the community.

"We are a community of people in the Air Force that come from all different walks of life, with all different skills, talents and passions," said Gallagher. "I believe Big Give is important because ultimately, it's people and not things that matter. It's amazing to see Airmen take the skills the military taught them and apply those gifts and talents into the community that they live in."

Big Give allows service members and civilians to work together to provide a variety of services to the community, bringing Alamogordo and Holloman closer.

"I think of the story of the man who was walking the beach throwing the starfish into the ocean when a bystander commented that he would never be able to save them all and it wouldn't make a difference. To which the man replied, as he threw another starfish into the ocean, 'It made a difference to that one,'" Gallagher said.

U.S. Air Force Col. David Krumm, 49th Wing commander, said, "I can't even express to you what this program has done for the people of this community and this base. The feeling that you get by promising someone something that someone cannot give to themselves, the overwhelming blessing that you give someone or some organization will bring wonders to your heart."

In July, 14 teams set out to conduct their projects in the community and compete for the grand prize during the 21-day program.

This is how the 14 teams taking part this year were able to give big:
· Family Matters helped Buena Vista Elementary, La Luz Elementary and Academy del Sol, three Alamogordo public schools, by completing small projects such as painting.
· The Airman's Council worked with the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and renovated a science teacher laboratory.
· Team HUG conducted a school supply drive and random acts of kindness such as bringing food to firefighters and members of security forces on base.
· Team Green held a Christmas in July for underprivileged children.
· Village People developed a walking trail for animals.
· Paws for Pups volunteered in the Animal Village kennels by watering, feeding and walking the dogs.
· Construction Crew completed renovations of the Boys & Girls Club of Otero County.
· Pirates Providing for Alamogordo raised funds to donate 80 backpacks of school supplies to the N.M. Children, Youth and Families Department.
· The Mudslingers volunteered at C.O.P.E., or Center of Protective Environment, by repairing a leaking roof, tearing down trees and paving a sidewalk.
· REVO helped out their community by completing 21 random acts of kindness, which included purchasing a car seat for a single grandmother and child sitting at no cost for a family with five children.
· The Company Grade Officers' Council worked with Fountaingate Children's Home, planting what they call a "forest of trees."
· COM Crushers, Team Awesome and 49 CS worked with the Legacy Christian Academy to redo the flooring of the basketball court, remodel a bathroom and construct a playground.

Though the community was benefited by all teams of Big Give, the Mudslingers were declared the winners by Big Give's panel of judges.

"When we took on this event, I don't think we realized just how much of a difference we could make," said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Ray Lara, 49th Logistics Readiness Squadron safety and facilities NCO in charge. "This team has done really well. We've sat down and discussed continuing this even after the finals. It's not just about a competition anymore. We'll move on from this and whatever anyone else needs, whether it's one family or a whole organization, we'll do it."

Since Big Give ended, the Mudslingers have decided to continue to volunteer their time to other projects within Otero County. Some of the team's members have even used their portion of the prize money to buy tool/supplies for upcoming projects. Other team members have/will donate their prize money to other organizations (i.e. Relay for Life, start-up money for a 5k in support of Burton Learning Systems)

"At the end of each year, I will tell you that this was the best Big Give season yet," said Gallagher. I sincerely hope that next year I'll be able to do the same thing as the program grows and more members of Team Holloman participate in this life changing program."

For more information on Big Give and how to get involved, contact the FSS marketing office at 575-572-5597.