As Opposing Views reported on Monday, there has been controversy surrounding a Christmas toy drive organized by cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy. The Family Research Council accused the Air Force of giving in to an "anti-Christian" activist and dropping the program. In an email sent to Opposing Views, the Air Force clarifies the situation:
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, CO – The Academy recently received questions regarding an e-mail sent by cadets to cadets calling for volunteers and donations for “Operation Christmas Child,” a toy drive sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian-affiliated organization.
Per Headquarters Air Force direction, the Chaplain Corps is responsible for advertising faith-based programs and events.
Upon realizing the oversight, Brig. Gen. Richard Clark, the Commandant of Cadets, immediately asked the Cadet Chaplain Corps to work with the cadets who sent out the e-mail. When brought to their attention the cadets decided to retract the e-mail and work with the Cadet Chaplain Corps on the toy drive.
“This was an oversight by me that has been addressed and forwarded through the proper channels,” General Clark said. “The cadets’ had nothing but good intentions, but this was something that should have started with the Chaplains, not the Cadet Wing. That doesn’t mean the cadets can’t volunteer for the Christmas toy drive, they can participate through the Cadet Chaplain Corps.
Academy cadets regularly volunteer for community programs across the country. In the 2010-2011 academic year, the Cadet Service Learning program had 4,499 volunteers conduct nearly 1,600 projects totaling more than 31,000 hours of service. The Academy has supported various organizations including Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Race for the Cure and Habitat for Humanity in cities like Los Angeles, Phoenix and Houston. More recently, a group of more than 100 cadets travelled to Pierre, S.D., to provide flood relief for residents there.
“Our cadets are outstanding young men and women who consistently give up their time, to include parts of their spring and summer breaks, to help people in need across the country,” General Clark said. “The character of our cadets is second to none.”