'Operation Cheer' provides poinsettias to wounded

  • Published
  • By Sean Bowlin
  • 12th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
A 12th Flying Training Wing Chaplain is showing his love for wounded warriors this holiday season - with a lot of help from his flock.

Chaplain (Capt.) Eric Boyer, who served in the Army before divinity school and the Air Force, encouraged Team Randolph's Protestant parishioners to contribute to "Operation Cheer," a program that brings a dose of the holiday spirit to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines recovering from wounds in local military hospitals.

In its second year, Operation Cheer takes donations from chapel attendees and uses the money to buy poinsettia plants for war fighters recovering from wounds in San Antonio military hospitals, and for their families who watch and wait for them to get better.

Last year, parishioners bought 186 poinsettias and donated them to wounded at Wilford Hall Air Force Medical Center, Brooke Army Medical Center, and to families of the wounded staying at the Fort Sam Houston-based Fisher House.

This year's donated poinsettias will be given out Dec. 23 in the evening at the same facilities and at the Warrior Transition and Support Center at Fort Sam Houston. As don in the past year, families of the wounded staying at the Fisher House will also receive poinsettias.

And the project is still going strong.

"There's still time to donate this Sunday at church," commented Collis Thorn, 12th FTW Chaplain's office Protestant parish coordinator. "And so far, the response has been overwhelming."

He's right. This year, thanks to Chaplain Boyer's appeal, parishioners bought and donated 483 poinsettias.

The poinsettias are bagged in Chapel 1. From there, volunteers put a card in each one and will distribute them after the second Christmas service to be held in Chapel 1 Dec. 23.

Some of those volunteers said spending hour after hour bagging the poinsettias and setting them out in church pews in Chapel 1 for easy pickup was a labor of love. It was the least they could do for those wounded who asked for nothing - and sacrificed a lot.

"I'm exhausted doing this and I feel good about it," said Merle Herren, a retired Air Force civilian who has been a parishioner for 21 years.

Volunteer Connie Bell, a 36-year parishioner, simply said, "This is wonderful and it's something nice we can do for the wounded."

Chaplain Boyer took no credit for the project. Instead he said, "I consider it a tremendous privilege that we here can do anything for the wounded after what they have done for us."

"It keeps our parishioners conscious of the sacrifices our warriors have made," added Mr. Thorn, who bagged poinsettias during several late nights after spraining an ankle doing so. But the parish coordinator put away his crutches and kept bagging poinsettias.

"There was too much work to be done," he said.