WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Back in November, the Derby Chamber of Commerce teamed up with the McConnell Air Force Base to host a Gift Card Drive for the 413 single Airmen “stuck” at the base over the holidays.

These airmen range from 18 to 20 years old and do not have the opportunity to go home around the holidays. There have been times when these young men and women struggle being away from home during the holidays and end up making terrible decisions as a result. There have even been cases of suicide.

The Derby Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, Mark Staats, said that the company has a very special relationship with McConnell and actively tries to improve that relationship.

“We invite them to different things, and they invite us to different things. We have a McConnell action group that’s very involved with McConnell in trying to support the base as a whole,” said Staats.

The overall mission of this Gift Card Drive is to spread holiday cheer to these airmen and provide them with the opportunity to get them out of their dorms and into the community socializing.

Their goal was to raise $4,100 to provide these young men and women with a $10 gift card to a local restaurant where they can sit down and have a meal.

The Derby Community and surrounding communities did not disappoint. In fact, the Derby Chamber of Commerce says that the response was phenomenal.

The goal was well-surpassed, having raised over $12,400, tripling their goal.

Instead of the First Sergeants Council giving every airman one gift card, they will receive three gift cards to various restaurants.

“I’d like to thank our community for really stepping up and supporting McConnell Airforce Base and this important project that we’re doing. I think it speaks volumes for the citizens of Derby and the surrounding area,” said Staats.

Anyone can still donate by going to the Derby Chamber of Commerce’s website or by heading to the Welcome Center inside Derby City Hall.