Article Display

Sumter locals, Shaw strengthen bonds in annual picnic

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Steven Cardo
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Service members and DOD civilians assigned to Shaw Air Force Base gathered for the first Military Appreciation Picnic since the COVID-19 pandemic, hosted by the Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the 20th Fighter Wing on base, Nov. 4, 2022. 

The picnic offered Team Shaw and the Sumter community an opportunity to build bridges and extend a mutual appreciation while providing service members with information on resources available to them in the local area. 

“The Military Appreciation Picnic is a way for the community to say ‘thank you’ to the Airmen,” said Chris Hardy, Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce president. “We’ve been doing this for about ten years now. We gather volunteers, grill hamburgers and hotdogs, and the business community comes out and offers resources and services to the Airmen and their families.”

The Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce coordinated with the local business community to provide food, drinks, and volunteers to help bring Shaw and its neighbors together for an afternoon of fellowship and solidarity. 

“I absolutely love it,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Tracie Coston, 20th Comptroller Squadron, Wing Staff Agencies and 20th Contracting Squadron first sergeant. “I remember the Military Appreciation Picnic from when I was a young Airman. It allows me to see everything that is going on in the local area as well as letting me have a good time and have some good food.”

Representatives of the Chamber of Commerce and Airmen from the 20th FW hosted over 500 attendees from across base and featured 26 local businesses at the event, which helped Airmen and soldiers learn more about Sumter and further integrate into the community.  Event organizers and base leaders plan to continue hosting the event and growing opportunities to introduce service members to local businesses in future years.