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It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas: Tinker personnel donate books to on-base program

From left, Elane Peek, Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center Direcotr of Staff Protocol; Patti Ford, Director of Staff; Rhonda Lugo, DSP; William Calvo, Commanders Action Group; and Lisa Shimkus, Director of Staff Executive Service, gather around a basket of children's books that were collected for the Christmas in July party for the Family Support Center's new "Ready and Reading" program. (Air Force photo by Kathy Paine)

From left, Elane Peek, Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center Direcotr of Staff Protocol; Patti Ford, Director of Staff; Rhonda Lugo, DSP; William Calvo, Commanders Action Group; and Lisa Shimkus, Director of Staff Executive Service, gather around a basket of children's books that were collected for the Christmas in July party for the Family Support Center's new "Ready and Reading" program. (Air Force photo by Kathy Paine)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE -- Poet Helen Steiner Rice once wrote, "Peace on earth will come to stay when we live Christmas every day."
   The spirit of Christmas echoed through the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center Director of Staff conference room July 26.
   Roughly 25 people attended and collected nearly 50 children's books for the Family Support Center's new Ready and Reading program.
   "I thought Christmas in July would be a nice time to gather and an appropriate time to request donations to an on-base charity," said Lisa Shimkus, OC-ALC Executive Services management analyst. "Jane Allen (FSC director) told me about this new program and I thought it would be a fun, unique way to celebrate giving and would, at the same time, help launch the new program."
   The Ready and Reading program is designed to help children of deployed parents cope with their absence. Parents who will soon deploy may record themselves reading one children's book to a video camera per deployment. Set in a cozy environment, the recording will allow the military member's children to read along or be soothed by the image. The deploying parent may read one of their own books or a donated book, as supplies are available.
   Ms. Shimkus said she wished this program was around when her husband, a now retired Air Force member, was active duty.
   "I have twin boys and we went through several periods of long separations when my husband deployed," she said. "It never crossed my mind to videotape my husband reading. I just showed them pictures and waited for phone calls, but we did watch videos with my husband in them, which was comforting to my boys."
   Bookmarks with the Ms. Rice quote, "Peace on earth will come to stay when we live Christmas every day," were given to everyone who donated a book.
   For more information about the Ready and Reading program or to set up a video-recorded reading session with a Family Readiness coordinator, call the Family Support Center at 739-2747.