U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – Over the course of a few hours, children at the Child Enrichment Center in downtown Colorado Springs run, jump and play on a playground with a group of Air Force Academy cadets, Oct. 4.
It’s a scene of happy chaos: a jubilance that spreads from the kids to the cadets, who laugh and hoist them onto their shoulders and chase them in a lawless game of tag.
“All of these children have experienced homelessness, but right now, if you look at them, they’re just kids,” said Karen Kantor, Partners in Housing development director.
In March, cadets reached out to the organization to volunteer. Cadet 2nd Class Hanna Guckenberg, an Eau Claire, Wisconsin native with a love for working with children, was one of the early volunteers.
“My favorite part about coming here is bringing a smile to [the kid’s] faces,” Guckenberg said. “Communities are really something to be valued and cherished, and you get so much more back than what you put in. It’s very rewarding.”
The CEC staff described the cadets as energetic, helpful, and important to creating a positive atmosphere for the children.
“The cadets are successful, they’re committed, and they’re doing these things we want the kids to consider for their own future,” said Kantor. “Instilling a sense of philanthropy in our young adults is huge. I think that to be a good leader you have to be willing to serve.”