Spare change makes difference

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Eric Schloeffel
  • 347th Rescue Wing Public Affairs
The 347th Medical Group recently proved the old cliché "every little bit helps," during a month-long fundraiser for a Team Moody family member. 

The 347th MDG gave a check for $1,051.60 to Tammy Turnmeyer, fitness center manager, to assist with her son's medical expenses. The money was raised primarily from small change placed in collection jars throughout the base clinic. 

Mrs. Turnmeyer's son, Dane, was born with a hypoplastic left heart, meaning the left side of his heart doesn't function. 

He recently underwent his third open heart surgery June 2; and twice a month, the family travels to Atlanta to visit Dane's cardiologist. 

In late June, Capt. Wayne Wholaver, 347th MDG medical logistics flight commander, heard about Dane's condition and decided to take action to help a fellow Team Moody member. 

"I read some information about Dane and thought it'd be a great idea if we helped out by raising a few hundred dollars for their medical bills or even just the gas for the ride to Atlanta," the captain said. "I thought we might as well try and see what we get." 

His plan of placing collection jars in high traffic areas was intended for small change, but what wasn't expected was the amount of change the jars soon donated. 

On July 28, Captain Wholaver took all the nickels, dimes and quarters to a local supermarket to convert the coins to cash for free. He then brought the pennies to a local bank, redeeming them for a small fee. 

As it turned out, the 347th MDG raised more than $240 in pennies alone, and the donation total far exceeded all expectations. 

"I expected maybe two or three hundred dollars," said Captain Wholaver. "But we started accumulating an awful lot of pennies and small change. I had to bring the pennies to the bank in big jugs, and trust me, it was heavy." 

One week later, Mrs. Turnmeyer was on-leave at home with Dane, 3, who was still recovering from open heart surgery. She received a call telling her to return to work immediately. 

"I was told to come back to work to look at something that was broken," said Mrs. Turnmeyer. "I showed up at the Fitness Center, and Col. (Mark) Johnson and Captain Wholaver were there to present me a check. I was really surprised." 

Receiving the check from the 347th MDG also renewed her belief that the Air Force family is constantly helping their own, she said. 

"I was shocked, in-part because I'm not a member of the Med Group," she said. "For them to think about Dane was awesome, and it shows how the Air Force cares for its family. The Air Force is a great place to work, and it takes care of you and your family members. 

"This is also not the first time (Team Moody) has donated to help my family," she added. "I've also recently received more than a thousand dollars from the 347th Services Squadron and $300 from the Child Development Center's Parental Advisory Board." 

Captain Wholaver said he felt proud his unit adopted this worthy cause and donated the "little bit" adding up to a whole lot. 

"I was really touched that the people in the Med Group stepped up to help this family out," he said. "All I did was get the idea for them to donate pennies, and they ended up bringing in lot more. I hope this inspires people at Moody to continue helping our own."