Project Rudolph gives back to fellow heroes

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Hailey Haux
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
A gentleman sits in an uncomfortable chair at the airport waiting for the plane to board. It's nearly Christmas and he is heading downrange again. While thinking about his family, the smiles on his kids' faces as they play with their new toys, he hears a voice.

"Merry Christmas, sir," said a woman as she hands him a brown paper lunch bag decorated in holiday stickers.

The man says, "Thank you," and opens the bag to see what's inside.

There is a handwritten letter from a little girl addressed "Dear military member." A tear drops down his cheek as he reads it; the letter is thanking him for his service.

An ornament, candy cane and individual candies are also in the small bag. The man looks up and sees there are several people at the airport handing these bags out to every Soldier, Sailor, Airmen and Marine there.

He asks the woman who gave him the bag what they were doing. "It's called Project Rudolph," replied Tawny Archibald Campbell, founder of Project Rudolph. "We put together these bags to hand out to military members transitioning through Ramstein Passenger Terminal on days leading up to Christmas."

Project Rudolph was started in 2006 by Campbell and her husband, Army Sgt. Joseph Campbell, Charlie Company 1st of the 214th Aviation Regiment flight medic, and daughter, Ceilidha, as a family home project. It grew into an annual holiday tradition and is now in its seventh year.

"Receiving a letter, treat or note just showing support, love and appreciation goes a long way to making a holiday spent away from loved ones a bit more bearable," said Campbell. "Project Rudolph makes it possible to provide that support for service members who will no doubt remember this act of service and love for a long time."

The first year this was done, the Campbell family planned on making 50 bags to hand out, but when they realized how many military members were going through the PAX terminal they decided they needed more bags.

"Our 50 bags turned into 3,000 that first year," the Project Rudolph founder said. "Last year we handed out more than 15,000 bags; 7,000 here at Ramstein and an additional 8,000 sent from the states directly downrange."

Ray and Cheri Archibald, Tawny Campbell's parents and stateside directors, help with all the coordination and sending of the packages from their location to those downrange.
Volunteers spend 30 to 35 days at the PAX terminal, handing out bags to those coming and going.

"It's a great opportunity to give back to service members," said Kristin Songe, assembly bag coordinator for Project Rudolph. "I like to volunteer for things I can do with my kids because it helps them develop a sense of volunteering and giving."

Last year a toy run was put together by an Airman from the Force Support Squadron. The admission price was a brand new toy, which were then donated to Project Rudolph.

"It was perfect because on Christmas Eve there was a group of servicemen and women heading home," said Campbell. "We gave them the toys we received from the toy run. They were able to take a brand new toy home for their kids on Christmas."

For those volunteering and those being served at the PAX terminal there will be fresh fruit, baked goods and bottles of water and soda.

"Bands have come to perform in the past years and people have even come caroling," the Oakley, Idaho native said. "It's remarkable and people get addicted to it because they see what their contribution has done. The Kaiserslautern Military Community really comes together to help their fellow military members, and it's really great."

The action of volunteers contributes to the morale of service members during the holidays.

"We are going to have our own thing as a unit," said Army Sgt. Sarah Brant, aviation operations and Savanna, Georgia native. "That's what brings us together; it's like our second family. But it's good to know that there are people behind us and supporting us."

In addition to Project Rudolph, the Campbell family has also started Operation Angel.

"We go to the local military installations here on New Year's Day and hand out gift bags to service members," said Campbell. "Things like Band-Aids, to soothe your hurt feelings and those of others, Hershey's Kisses, for hugs and kisses because we all need them, paper clips, to help you hold your things together, and much more are in these 'Guardian Angel Bags.'"

Last year military members received packages from Project Rudolph and Operation Angel at 15 different locations and more than 150,000 volunteers helped from everywhere, either sending in donations or volunteering to put the bags together and hand them out.

More than 4,600 bags were assembled between Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.

For more information, visit or like them on Facebook at For those interested in volunteering, contact them at

NOTE: This year Project Rudolph is in need of donations to help keep the PAX snacks table full, so service members can grab a drink, fresh fruit of some other treat for the next leg of their journey. Donations can be dropped off at the Project Rudolph table upstairs in the PAX terminal.