180FW Dresses Down to Support Local Community
By Staff Sgt. John Wilkes, 180th Fighter Wing, Ohio Air National Guard
/ Published March 09, 2016
SWANTON, Ohio -- Airmen with the 180th Fighter Wing, Ohio Air National Guard, collected canned food and other donations as part of a Dress Down Donation event on March 1.
Collected items are donated to the SeaGate Food Bank of Northwest Ohio, a non-profit organization that has been serving Northwest Ohio since 1976.
"Opportunities like this are great," said Master Sgt. Norman Drzwiecki, cyber surety manager with the 180FW Mission Support Group. "It defines our core values, it's not only giving back in monetary ways but it's feeding the community as well."
"Our mission is to provide food stability to our neighbors in need as well as Northwest Ohio," said Deb Vas, executive director for SeaGate. "The donations brought in by the 180FW play a big part in supporting a variety of our programs."
Since the dress down event began over nine years ago, the 180FW has donated more than $60,000 and nearly 20,000 pounds of food. For every dollar donated approximately four pounds of food can be purchased for those in need.
"We have a very small staff, the volunteers are wonderful folks and we depend on yours and the communities support," Vas said.
A study conducted by ProMedica and the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease shows some staggering information. Approximately one in five Lucas County residents, more than 85,000 people, face hunger, which is one of the highest rates statewide. In Ohio as a whole, the rate of food insecurity is higher than the national average - more than two million Ohioans go hungry.
According to Randy Oostra, the chief executive officer of ProMedica, research shows that hunger can continue to have a negative effect on health 10 to 15 years after childhood. In addition, hungry children are more likely to suffer poor health and delayed development.
"At this time, we service over 103,000 individuals every month and provide over 15 million pounds of food annually," said Vas.
Airmen of the 180FW are personally invested in the local communities. Through events like this, service members are able to give back to the communities that give so much to them.
"It's not just a reward to dress down; people donate and don't dress down," said Drzewiecki. "We have a strong family atmosphere here, people love giving."