Layaway balances paid off for Tinker military families ahead of holidays

  • Published
  • By Clayton Cummins

The holidays were made a bit brighter for military families at Tinker Air Force Base.

Soldiers Wish, a non-profit based in Tulsa, offered to pay off the layaway balances in full for 17 military families at the Base Exchange.

The 17 families were surprised with the news during an event December 20, 2023 at the Main Exchange Food Court.

Thomas and Jessica Chapman were among the gifted layaway purchase. It couldn’t of came at a better time for the couple and their two young children.

When I got the call, (the employee) was like 'you've won a sweepstake,'" said Jessica. "I told myself I didn't enter a sweepstake, what is she talking about? She asked if I could come to the base the next day.

"It feels incredible, it is a relief lifted off people," said Thomas. "When they put something in place to prepare for their kids and someone says, 'it's all paid for,' it is a beautiful feeling."

The Chapman family has lived in Oklahoma for three years and have always made it a priority to give back where they can.

“We pride ourselves on giving back to the community, this is a beautiful feeling to have it given back,” said Thomas.

72nd Air Base Wing Deputy Commander, Col. Hardy T. Giles II, Tinker Air Force Base Exchange General Manager, Charles Eaves, and Soldiers Wish Executive Director, Debra Wimpee, were in attendance for the announcement.

Wimpee says the best part of her organization is working to help meet unmet needs of the military.

“They weren’t expecting it and the best part of it,” said Wimpee. “Times are tough right now so we freed up some income that can be used in other ways. That is the best part. That is the joy of the whole thing to see them light up whenever they heard the news.”

“We are incredibly blessed and really appreciative for them doing this for families who just can’t outright pay for stuff like that,” said Jessica.

Since 1895, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (Exchange) has gone where Soldiers, Airmen, Guardians and their families go to improve the quality of their lives by providing valued goods and services at exclusive military pricing. The Exchange is the 54th-largest retailer in the United States.