Food Drive Held for Needy Airmen, Families

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. -- National defense cuts trickle down to the youngest foot soldiers, according to Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce President Mike Dyer.

"There's just not enough money to pay the bills and purchase groceries and, plus, to gear up for the holidays and to provide for their families," Dyer said.

Lower-ranked airmen at Robins Air Force Base, whose monthly budgets have expanded as the military reduces its assistance programs on bases, make up most of the 67 families who will receive the donations the chamber is collecting for its annual food drive, Dyer said.

"These are airmen or airwomen that are newly enlisted, or they're some of the lower-ranked," he said. "Folks at the lower level, their net take-home (pay) is very small."

Many perks have either been cut severely or in full as the Department of Defense deals with smaller and smaller budgets.

It's now those families with the smaller budgets dealing with those cuts, Dyer said.

The chamber food drive aims to lift some of that burden this holiday season, he said.

The chamber is asking businesses, organizations and residents in the region to donate canned goods and money to help purchase turkeys, hams and other perishable items.

Donations can be made at the Chamber of Commerce at 305 Coliseum Drive until 8:30 a.m. Dec. 6. Monetary donations can be made at maconchamber.com.

Last year, donations helped 85 families at Robins.

"While (the number of families in need is) down a little bit this year, they're trending about the same," Dyer said.

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