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Manta Airmen donate much needed supplies to burn center

Airman 1st Class Oliver Guerrero (front left) hands a box of donated items to Tech. Sgt. Nicky Ford as Lt. Col. Gary Califf (far left) directs volunteers April 5 near Manta, Ecuador. Air National Guard members from the 186th Air Refueling Wing from Meridian, Miss., who are deployed to Ecuador donated a truckload of donations to the burn center at Rodriguez Zambrano Hospital. Airman Guerrero works force protection for 478th Expeditionary Operations Squadron. Sergeant Ford is a 478th EOS chaplain assistant and Colonel Califf is a 478th EOS chaplain. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Airman 1st Class Oliver Guerrero (front left) hands a box of donated items to Tech. Sgt. Nicky Ford as Lt. Col. Gary Califf (far left) directs volunteers April 5 near Manta, Ecuador. Air National Guard members from the 186th Air Refueling Wing from Meridian, Miss., who are deployed to Ecuador donated a truckload of donations to the burn center at Rodriguez Zambrano Hospital. Airman Guerrero works force protection for 478th Expeditionary Operations Squadron. Sergeant Ford is a 478th EOS chaplain assistant and Colonel Califf is a 478th EOS chaplain. (U.S. Air Force photo)

MANTA, Ecuador (AFNEWS) --
Volunteers from the 478th Expeditionary Operations Squadron here recently donated a truckful of items to a local burn center.

The items were collected by members of the Air National Guard's 186th Air Refueling Wing based in Meridian, Miss., who are assigned to the 478th EOS during their two-month deployment to Manta.

When members of the Meridian Air National Guard heard they were going to deploy to Manta, they asked the 478th EOS chaplain what items they could donate to help make a difference for the local community. Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Gary Califf responded the most helpful things they could bring would be those needed by a local burn center at the Rodriguez Zambrano Hospital.

"We made the need known to the wing commander and a lot of spouses put the word out," said 2nd Lt. Teresa Cooksey, a 186th ARW maintenance officer. "The following Monday, the first four big boxes showed up at our office."

Then box after box continued pouring in after that. Members of the squadron also raised more than $500, Lieutenant Cooksey said.

Donations included items such as clothing, hospital gowns, hand sanitizer, hospital gowns, children's videos, toys, stationery, clocks and more.

"We're excited about being here and the opportunity to help folks," said Senior Master Sgt. Ed Phillips, the 186th ARW maintenance supervisor.

Even though the members of the 186th ARW are only here for two months, they have made a big impact during that short amount of time, said Lt. Col. Javier Delucca, the 478th EOS commander.

"It's just amazing to see how this all came together," Colonel Delucca said. "We made a need known on behalf of the burn center, and the response from the 186th has been overwhelming in support of the people of Ecuador."

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