'Vance Helping Hands' puts service before self in the local community

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Cameron Schultz
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Airmen are built on the core value of Service Before Self and that doesn’t just apply on duty, but also in their community, where there are many ways of serving. Two Vance Airmen have demonstrated their passion for serving by volunteering and supporting the city of Enid. 

Airman 1st Class Iasia Norton-Gardner, a squadron aviation resource manager assigned to the 71st Operations Support Squadron, has been helping the homeless even before joining the Air Force. She hopes to expand that effort to Enid.

“It’s always been my passion in life to spread love and help those who need it the most,” said Norton-Gardner. 

One way she does this is by collecting hygiene items such as soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo and masks in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hygiene item donation boxes are at the main entrance of the Vance Exchange and Vance Clinic until Dec. 5.

“You can see the joy in other people’s faces when you help them and that gives me so much joy,” said Norton-Gardener.

Airman 1st Class Hannah Luker, an administrative assistant assigned to the 71st Medical Group, puts service before self by cleaning public places in Enid.

“I volunteer at Meadowlake Park picking up garbage. I wish I had more people working with me,” said Luker.

She and Norton-Gardner want volunteer events to become bigger things They created an organization called “Vance Helping Hands.”

“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.

Vance Helping Hands has reached 15 people and continues to grow.

“Community focus is the highest priority for Vance Helping Hands whether we’re donating or cleaning,” said Norton-Gardener.

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