• Many opportunities to give for holidays

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  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    Christmas is only a few weeks away and families are busy decorating their homes, buying gifts and making travel plans to visit loved ones, but many local organizations, businesses, and schools are making an effort to remind the community to remember those in need, too.
    Angel Tree
    The Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers and Army Community Service Angel Tree will be in the lobby of the Post Exchange through Dec. 17. The Angel Tree, now in its 11th year, is a program intended to help provide holiday gifts to children of active-duty soldiers who are unable to provide gifts for their children themselves.
    “Some families just need a hand up for the holidays. It is very easy to get behind on day-to-day life expenses for some families, and ACS, BOSS, the (PX) and the Fort Leavenworth community can come together and help them have a great Christmas. We want to make sure no mother or father has to worry about their children having presents under the tree for Christmas,” said Jeff Honey, BOSS advisor.
    “ACS has great connections with the community to gather names and make sure they are kept anonymous, and BOSS can assist with getting the word out to the community,” he said. “We team up for our connections and that footwork that needs to be completed behind the scenes for gathering gifts and pick up coordination.”
    To donate, select a tag from the tree and take it shopping. Purchase an age- and gender-appropriate gift, present the angel tag to the cashier for a 10 percent discount, and place the tag and unwrapped gift in a collection box by the registers by close of business Dec. 17.
    “For some, it is a great joy to give and sometimes better than receiving,” Honey said. “It helps us enjoy the season much more when we put our wants and needs aside to think about the next person.”
    For more information contact Honey at (913) 271-1602 or Jessica Brushwood, ACS Volunteer Corps coordinator, at (913) 684-2823.
    Food drives
    Fort Leavenworth Frontier Heritage Communities is hosting its annual “Thankful Harvest Food Drive” to collect non-perishable, non-expired packaged food items and canned goods, as well as disposable baby diapers of all sizes to donate to the Leavenworth Assistance Center.
    “During the holidays, I think giving is on everyone’s mind, and this is a form of contributing to our community that has been done for several years now,” said Meghan Fowler, FLFHC marketing coordinator. “It has been welcomed with positive responses from both those donating and receiving, and it has been a very rewarding event to participate in.”
    Items can be delivered to the FLFHC Community Management office at 220 Hancock Ave. during normal business hours through Dec. 15. For more information, call Fowler at (913) 682-6300 or e-mail fhc@tmo.com.
    Page 2 of 3 - The Fort Leavenworth Commissary is currently collecting donations for Christmas food baskets to help soldiers and their families in need of assistance, said Regenia Singletary, Commissary store manager.
    “It is hard enough to provide the basics during the rest of the year let alone holiday meals, gifts for under the tree, extended family visits and travel,” Singletary said. “So, we look forward to facilitating this giving opportunity every year. It is a great way for us to work with patrons and post volunteers from BOSS, (the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club) and the (Religious Services Organization) to support Fort Leavenworth military families during the holiday season.”
    In 2017, the community gave enough to feed 65 families for Thanksgiving and Christmas, which equals more than 250 people per holiday, Singletary said. For Thanksgiving this year, more than 75 families were fed and supported, which equals more than 300 people.
    With each family averaging four people, each food basket, including the cost of the turkey, costs approximately $38, Singletary said. However, donations of $5 or $9.99 are all patrons are asked to consider. Donations will be accepted through the middle of December.
    “My family and I have been here at Fort Leavenworth since 1997. It has become our hometown filled with wonderful friends that we consider our family,” Singletary said. “I am so honored to be a part of this amazing community who hears of a need or an opportunity to lend a helping hand and, without hesitation or a second thought, jumps in to help.”
    Schools
    This year, local schools are participating in a collaborative project by collecting donations for the Children’s Mercy Holiday Toy Drive.
    The Patton Junior High School Student Council is heading the project.
    Donations for the toy drive will be accepted through Dec. 12 at all four post schools. Acceptable donations include rattles, action figures, coloring books, stickers, books, card games and clothing in varying sizes. Items must be new with tags attached and in their original packaging; non-toxic and latex-free; odor-free, and season-specific. For more gift ideas, visit www.childrensmercy.org/help-our-kids/donate-goods/.
    Along with the toy drive, Bradley and Eisenhower Elementary Schools are also leading side projects. Bradley has adopted a family of seven through Catholic Charities and will be accepting donations through Dec. 12.
    “We are really excited to be helping a local family while teaching students the importance of generosity,” said Ally Jackson, Bradley fourth-grade teacher and co-sponsor of the student council.
    “Encouraging small acts of kindness during the holiday season will teach children that generosity and giving can be one of the best gifts of all,” added Allison Pierce, Bradley English as a Second Language teacher and co-sponsor of the student council. “Modeling and sharing the importance of giving will inspire students to be kind and charitable as they continue to grow up.”
    Page 3 of 3 - For families who are interested in donating, the student council has a bulletin board at the entrance of the building with requested items. Unwrapped gifts with the tags still attached can be dropped off in the collection bin by the front entrance to the school. Money and gift card donations should be dropped off in the office.
    Debbie Salvatorelli’s sixth-grade class at Eisenhower is hosting a food drive for the school, to supplement the sixth-grade’s annual trip to the Commissary. For more than 25 years, Eisenhower sixth-graders have spent several weeks before the holiday season doing chores and other tasks to earn money to buy food to donate to the Leavenworth Assistance Center. Over the years, more than $20,000 worth of food has been donated.
    “As a class, we decided to add onto this project by involving the whole school and hopefully doubling our donation to the Leavenworth Assistance Center,” Salvatorelli said.
    Salvatorelli said the decision to expand the project is a direct result of the Leader in Me program.
    “I did absolutely none of the planning or setting up of the project,” she said. “The Leader in Me program emphasizes that students organize and be the leaders of the activity. Students wanted to get everyone at Eisenhower involved and able to contribute to those in need. So, they talked to the principal, made sure there was a daily reminder over the intercom, made posters for all the classrooms, talked to students about the project, collected and decorated the boxes and arranged for a delivery of the items to the center.”
    Salvatorelli said she hopes this inspires the students to help those in need all year long.
    “I want my students to become the leaders in their communities when they are adults and to recognize that we are very fortunate to have the means to help those in need,” she said. “I am very proud of the way the students have organized and planned the project. They all are to be recognized for their efforts. I know they will continue to be generous and helpful to others in the years to come.”
    Non-perishable food items can be dropped off at the school until Dec. 5. Donations will be given to the Leavenworth Assistance Center and Catholic Charities. The sixth-grade will go to the Commissary to purchase food Dec. 7.
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