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Thu, Oct. 17

Local student charity group receives highest rank in the nation

Prescott's Silver Wings group - based out of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - is taking the lead for the organization nationally, in more ways than one.

"Silver Wings is a national, service-based organization," said Kenneth Stuart, Public Affairs Officer for the local group. "It's all about professional development, personal development and civic awareness. Also, we stress education about national defense. It's closely tied with the Air Force, and we do a lot of work with the Arnold Air Society. Arnold Air is only open to ROTC cadets, though, where Silver Wings is open to all Embry-Riddle students."

At its recent national conclave the local group - the Steven M. Scherp chapter - received the Lt. Col. Bill Morley award for having the "most outstanding service program" in the nation. The approximately 35 local Silver Wings members put in more than 100 work hours on various service projects during a single semester.

"We've worked with the Salvation Army cleaning their kitchen and making food boxes, and we've worked with Habitat for Humanity at their local center," said Kerianne Hobbs, Activities Officer. "We collected over 660 pounds of food for Easter and donated it to the (Yavapai) County Food Bank. There's our highway cleanup every semester. We did a blood drive on campus. We've been very busy."

Stuart said that they also work to show their respect to veterans by going to the Bob Stump VA Medical Center for a variety of projects, such as decorating at Christmas and helping out with the Memorial Day parade. They also collect items and assemble care packages for American military personnel serving overseas.

"Every year the Silver Wings selects a new national headquarters at the conclave," said Rachael Caskey, 19, an ERAU student and Silver Wings National President. "About four years ago we were the national headquarters, and we were selected again, this year. As national staff we're in charge of national bylaws and operations, and guiding the group so it can grow bigger."

Caskey said that another responsibility for the national headquarters is choosing their national projects the national group conducts annually.

The separate national project, is solely for the Silver Wings, and on the joint national project, they work together with their partner charitable group, the Arnold Air Society.

"This year our joint national project will be 'The Courage to Overcome,' a cancer-related project to raise awareness and money for research," Caskey said. "Our separate national project will be 'Disaster Preparedness and Awareness,' where we'll help prepare for everything from natural disasters, to when your house burns down."

Caskey said that the national enclave was a good experience for her and that the Silver Wings has taught her lessons that she believes will serve her long after she graduates from college.

"At the national conclave there were a lot of guest speakers who have been in Silver Wings," Caskey said. "Now, they're in the business world. They related how it relates to the work we do in Silver Wings. Knowing how to plan, executive and debrief activities, developing leadership skills - that's information that prepares us for our future careers."

Caskey said the group is always looking for more ways to contribute to local charitable groups in the community. More information is available by e-mailing Kenneth Stuart at

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