Wing bands together to help Airman in need
By Senior Airman Nick Przybyciel, 446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 14, 2006
MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Airman First Class Donivan Crews has only been with the 446th AW since October, but he is already a celebrity.
“I was coming in the gate the other day and the dude was like, ‘Wait a second, I’ve seen you before.’ I’ve heard that a million times lately,” said Airman Crews, 86th Aerial Port Squadron.
But if it was up to him, Airman Crews would undoubtedly wish that the circumstances behind his star-status never happened.
Moments after the apartment unit he shared with his father burned to the ground in December, Airman Crews was surrounded by local news reporters. His interviews were broadcast on two television networks, showing the image of a bewildered young Airman standing in front of a smoldering building that was once his home.
Tragically, he had lost everything but the uniform on his back. But when all was said and done, Airman Crews’ fellow Reservists selflessly provided aid to get him back on his feet.
On the day of the fire, Airman Crews called his dad for a ride home about an hour before he was to get off duty. Nonchalantly, his dad informed him that it may be a problem because of all the fire trucks that were in the way.
“I thought it was a joke. That’s how me and my dad are, we’re always joking about stuff like that,” he said.
Hanging up the telephone, he turned to a co-worker for a ride home. When they got near the apartment complex, Airman Crews noticed his father was not joking.
“We pulled up the hill, and they had just put it (the fire) out,” he said. “The police were like, ‘you can’t go in there.’ It’s my house, and I couldn’t go near it!”
After locating his father, they checked-in at a local motel for three nights. The apartment management moved quickly to provide the fire victims new units at a neighboring location. Airman Crews found the new home to be quite sparse, as he left with no belong-ings, he said.
This is where the generosity of 446th AW Airmen came in. They donated furniture, clothes, money and gift cards to the effort, and are still soliciting items.
Tech. Sgt. Michael Bray from the 446th Airlift Wing Family Support Center here helped spearhead the effort. “Initially, we gave him some (retail) gift cards. Then someone donated a king-size bed. After that, I purchased some bedding from him at the thrift shop.”
Since then, numerous items have been rolling in from across the wing.
“I’ve got a dining room table out there,” Airman Crews said, pointing across the office. “I’ve got to break it down to put it in my car. It’s huge, and I didn’t even ask for it. I just came in and saw my name written on a piece of paper on top of it.”
A dresser, computer desk and television were soon checked off the long list of items that Airman Crews needed. His unit provided new uniforms. Sergeant Bray even funded a shopping spree at the thrift store on base to buy clothing.
There was little agency help; most of the donations came directly from servicemembers.
This role is not a new one for Sergeant Bray. He said he maintains a storage trailer behind his house, full of furniture he refur-bishes himself and other housing items, just waiting for a needy owner.
“It’s just who I am. As time goes by I gather stuff up people might need. I set someone up once every two or three years. They’re usually someone moving in to an apartment and have nothing,” he said.
Sergeant Bray pointed out that there are still items that Airman Crews needs. The dining room table was an impressive gesture, but it is of little use without chairs. A gift card or two would also come in handy for some new clothes. If you would like to help out, con-tact the 446th AW Family Support Center at (253) 982-2755.