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SSEMC gives back to the community through Commissary Sweep

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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Lenaha Kidd, 52nd Fighter Wing Judge Advocate Office training and readiness noncommissioned officer in charge, guesses the price of a bag full of groceries during the Commissary Sweep at the base commissary on Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, Dec. 19, 2017. Participants guessed the price of baskets filled with items to earn more money to spend in the final shopping portion of the competition. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder)

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U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Derek Doiron, 52nd Maintenance Squadron phase support section chief, guesses the price of a bag full of groceries during the Commissary Sweep at the base commissary on Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, Dec. 19, 2017. The Spangdahlem Spouses and Enlisted Members Club sponsored the free event with funds collected from the Fall Bazaar. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder)

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Participants start the shopping round during the Commissary Sweep at the base commissary on Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, Dec. 19, 2017. The Commissary Sweep pitted five contestants against each other to compete for a $200 gift card and a cart full of groceries. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder)

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U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. David Forrest, 52nd Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion craftsman, listens to the next riddle during the Commissary Sweep at the base commissary on Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, Dec. 19, 2017. Competitors crunched numbers and solved riddles in a race against time during the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder)

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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Lenaha Kidd, 52nd Fighter Wing Judge Advocate Office training and readiness noncommissioned officer in charge, races to the check out line during the Commissary Sweep at the base commissary on Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, Dec. 19, 2017. The Spangdahlem Spouses and Enlisted Members Club sponsored the free event with funds collected from the Fall Bazaar. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder)

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Participants and volunteers pose for a group photo after the Commissary Sweep at the base commissary on Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, Dec. 19, 2017. The Spangdahlem Spouses and Enlisted Members Club sponsored the free event giving out more than $2800 in prizes and gift cards. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder)

Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany --

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Derek Doiron stood in-line to check out at the base Commissary like he had many times before.

But when the 52nd Maintenance Squadron phase support section chief waited there Dec. 19, 2017, he did so under unique circumstances.

His mission: to purchase specifically-queued items at a volume with the total cost edging closer and closer to the allotted $300 he received and not spend a penny more than that.

For that one extra cent that could add up in his total might break his chance at winning the ultimate prize of being known as the ultimate pennywise shopper with all bragging rights included.

Doiron, along with four other competitors, participated in the 2017 Commissary Sweep sponsored by the Spangdahlem Spouses and Enlisted Members Club.

The free event required participants to solve riddles, guess the price of a basket of items, gather groceries within a time limit, and not exceed that limit based on money earned in the previous rounds.

"Most people dread going grocery shopping," Doiron said. "But this was a really fun and well put together event."

The riddles and guessing games ended, giving way to the annual shopping spree. As all the competitors lined up, tension built up in the room not unlike a store about to open on Black Friday.

The countdown commences: three... two...  one... and the shopping carts take off!

The teams race around aisle corners causing their cart tires to squeal, sparing no time to claim the needed groceries before the next team could. 

With the final seconds ticking down, the competitors pulled up to the checkout registers for the calculations to begin.

A single cent could send anyone over the limit - which is ironic as the store rounds change up to the nearest nickel, and there's hardly a copper penny to be found in any register's drawer.

When results tabulated up, and Doiron’s tally brought him closest to the metaphorical green - exactly $5.05 under his allowed total.  

The distance between him and his closest rival was exactly $6.46, earning Doiron the title of sweep champion as well as a $200 commissary gift card.

Though his fellow competitors didn't take home the first place title, all teams took home the groceries they gathered during the sweep.

And perhaps the Spangdahlem community won, too, as the SSEMC gave back more than $2,800 during the event with funds raised from the Fall Bazaar.


Random shoppers also received gift cards for answering riddles throughout the competition.

"This is one of our small ways of giving back to the Spangdahlem community in a fun way," said Tech.Sgt. Joe Holzman, SSEMC president. "The teams went home with at least $250 in groceries."