Airman 1st Class Iasia Norton-Gardener, the president of Vance Helping Hands, picks up trash at Government Springs Park on Nov. 21. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cameron Schultz)

Vance Helping Hands, an independent, airman-led volunteer group from Vance Air Force Base, will be handing out hygiene kits for homeless people and those in need, 6 p.m. Saturday at Salvation Army of Enid, 518 N. Independence.

Airman 1st Class Iasia Norton-Gardner, a squadron aviation resource manager assigned to the 71st Operations Support Squadron, said community and base donations already have made the event a success.

“With the donations from all over, we have managed to provide 200-plus bags,” Norton-Gardner said. “We just really want to get the word out about the giveaway, so anyone in need can receive a free hygiene bag. In the midst of COVID we are all in need of help. Vance Helping Hands just wants to bring joy in this holiday season. As Oprah Winfrey says, ‘Helping others is the way we help ourselves.’”

Norton-Gardner has been helping the homeless even before joining the Air Force, and she hopes to expand that effort to Enid, according to a Nov. 29 article published by 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs.

“It’s always been my passion in life to spread love and help those who need it the most,” Norton-Gardner said. “You can see the joy in other people’s faces when you help them and that gives me so much joy.”

Norton-Gardner hopes to expand her efforts to help people without housing.

“I see the potential for Vance Helping Hands to reach more of the bases in Oklahoma, so we can tackle the issue of homelessness at a state level by giving out hot meals,” said Norton-Gardner. “Community focus is the highest priority for Vance Helping Hands whether we’re donating or cleaning.”

For more information and to join Vance Helping Hands, email Norton-Gardener at iasia.nortongardener@us.af.mil.

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Neal is health, military affairs and religion reporter and columnist for the Enid News & Eagle. Follow him on Twitter, @jamesnealwriter, and online at jamesrneal.com.
Have a question about this story? Do you see something we missed? Do you have a story idea for James? Send an email to jneal@enidnews.com.

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