Misawa NCO creates charity for children's hospitals
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- What initially started out as one Airman's idea to raise funds for hospitalized military children quickly turned into a video game charity stretching across 6,000 miles.
Tech. Sgt. Clayton Holcomb, 35th Communications Squadron NCO in charge of infrastructure, created "Operation Game Drop" to collect new and refurbished video games and consoles, as well as monetary donations for patients this holiday season. For him this is a way of bringing fun and normalcy to deserving military pediatric hospital patients.
Originally, his idea was to collect games for military children through "Child's Play" charity drive, an organization that provides toys and games to hospitals worldwide. However, because Child's Play could not provide to government hospitals, he decided to start a drive from scratch.
After reaching out to medical representatives in Maryland and speaking to mutual contacts, he decided the pediatric ward at the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth in Portsmouth, Virginia would be an ideal candidate, along with a shelter in his home state, the Shepherd's Rest Women's and Children's Shelter in Dallas, Georgia.
"Starting a new charity drive from the ground up was a little daunting, but I've always been a huge supporter of charitable causes, from Child's Play, to the Shriners' hospitals, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society," Holcomb said.
Holcomb's commander and first sergeant, two of his biggest supporters, assisted by advertising and coordinating future donation efforts with Air Force medical leadership.
It was Holcomb's wife, however, who helped him with all the intricacies of setting up the details for the drive. She helped create an online fundraiser and a Facebook account to help advertise.
Holcomb recalls one of the most enjoyable aspects of the drive was working with his wife to host a gaming tournament at "The Grid" on Misawa Air Base. The tournament served as a way to bring Misawa's gaming community together for an afternoon of fun and to rally supporters together before the campaign came to a close.
"It was definitely a 50-50 partnership," said Holcomb. "My wife is very detail-oriented and knows who to talk to and when to follow up. None of this could have happened without her."
Operation Game Drop received $3,640 in contributions and acquired more than 80 games and six consoles.
Holcomb said part of the money will go toward buying new televisions for the newer gaming systems, and the rest will be used to purchase mobile carts to move the games to children in isolated rooms.
"I couldn't be more pleased with how everything panned out," said Holcomb.
The hospital personnel in Virginia and Georgia have been receptive and appreciative of his efforts.
"They understand that allowing kids to be kids, even when they're stuck in a hospital, helps the healing process and fortifies their resiliency," said Holcomb. "Their staff is working closely with me to determine how best to utilize the donations to make the biggest impact for their unit."
Holcomb may push for making OGD an established non-profit organization in hopes to lead a Department of Defense-wide effort.