NORTH SALT LAKE -- Christmas came early for Top of Utah foster care families Thursday.
About 80 uniformed airmen from Hill Air Force Base's 388th and 419th fighter wings gathered at the Utah Foster Care Foundation offices in Ogden to help package and deliver Christmas gifts to foster and adoptive families in Weber, Davis, Morgan and Cache counties.
The airmen, using their own vehicles and personal leave time from work, stuffed the wrapped gifts in large plastic bags and hauled them off to the families in need.
Nikki Mackay, director of Foster Family Retention for the Foundation, said the gifts were all donated by individuals, companies and community groups through the Utah Foster Care Foundation's Giving Tree program.
More than 700 gifts were distributed to about 220 foster kids.
"This is a great day for our foster families," Mackay said. "The families are reimbursed (by the state), but that doesn't cover everything, and around Christmastime, things can get a little expensive."
Master Sgt. Jeff Hartman, a reservist for the 419th, and Tech. Sgt. Steven Frazier, an active-duty member of the 388th, delivered gifts to Amber Burke's home in North Salt Lake.
"I've done this for a lot of years now, and it never gets old," Hartman said. "We enjoy it as much as the kids who are getting the presents."
Hartman said a mass emailing regarding the event goes out each year, and airmen come out of the woodwork to volunteer.
"We get more and more people wanting to help out every year," he said.
Burke has a total of 10 children -- three biological children, four that she has adopted and three that she is fostering.
"We started out with three of our own and then planned to adopt two more after that," Burke said. "But we just kept going."
Burke said any help she can get, especially during the holidays, is welcome.
"This event is just another example of why we have never felt like we are raising these kids alone," she said.
"With 10 kids, Christmas can be a challenge, but we've always had support from the foundation and from the community."
Mackay said there are more than 2,600 children in foster care and about 1,400 foster families in Utah.
If businesses or individuals would like to donate to the foundation, go to www.utahfostercare.org or call 877-505-KIDS (5437).