I had the pleasure of helping out at Wright Patterson's Pre-Deployment fair this weekend. Fred and I helped with one in the fall. Every few months the Family Readiness Center hosts this huge information fair for the families of servicemen and women deploying soon. It really is an awesome experience.
Probably the highlight for the kids is the free Build-a-Bear each child receives. The parent who is deploying is given a recording device to record a message to their child which it then put inside the child's bear. They go all out with the kids, even filling out the bear's "birth certificate". I overheard one of the volunteers from Build-a-Bear say that 100 children were signed up to receive bears.
There's also crafts for the kids. In one corner they took pictures of the children with their deploying parent. The photos will be transferred to pillow cases for the kids (that's what Fred and I did last year). There were all kinds of other free-be's, like hats and little toys.
I was painting faces with another volunteer. It was so fun! RIGHT behind us was the Chick-Fil-A cow with a game the kids could play for little toys and free food coupons. The cow was so close to me, I felt like I had a body guard. Chick-Fil-A also donated most of the food for the event. They're REALLY supportive of the military out here. In fact, once a month they give free food to service members.
Of course there were also countless tables and displays for different support groups, resources, and information centers. The Base Commander and base Command Chief were also both there. I hope the delpoyees felt that their service is appreciated and that their families will be in good hands. It was just neat to be a part of it all. I love the Air Force :)