Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
The holidays are fast approaching, which means the community is busy making travel plans, buying gifts and spending time with family. It is also a time to remember those less fortunate, and Fort Leavenworth has multiple ways residents can give back.
The Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers Angel Tree will be in the Post Exchange lobby Nov. 29 through Dec.18. The Angel Tree, now in its 12th 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.
“We have seen what an impact the Angel Tree program has been for military families that just need a hand up for each Christmas season,” said Jeff Honey, BOSS adviser. “We would like to continue to ensure that families know that BOSS would like to provide a way to support the Fort Leavenworth families, big or small, when it comes to having presents under the tree for their children this year.
“If we can focus on others’ wants and needs during the holiday season, it gives a different perspective and outlook on our blessings that we have as we spend time with family and friends over the Christmas season,” he said. “I would hope that (donators) would remember back to a time when they may have been going through tough times, and they would feel the hope and joy that someone blessed them to get them through that tough time in their life. It helps us not take family or life for granted, and we capture every second we can with our loved ones this season.”
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. 18. Angel Tree tags range from newborn to 18 years old.
“We ask that (donators) stay as close to that description (on the tag) as possible in order for the children to get what they have requested,” Honey said.
For more information or to add a family in need (through Dec. 11), call 684-1703.
Commissary food drive
On Nov. 21, volunteers gathered in the stock room of the Fort Leavenworth Commissary to put together 95 holiday meal baskets for families in need for Thanksgiving, a result of donations made by Liberty Fruit Company and Commissary patrons. Now, patrons have an opportunity to help again for Christmas.
“This time of year is always a little tough for folks, and I think it tends to be a little tougher for our service members. I know we say ‘thank you for your service,’ but I am not sure they really know how much we really appreciate them,” said Regenia Singletary, Fort Leavenworth Commissary manager. “This simple gesture is one way for everyone to express their thanks. A lot of people think if they can’t do something big then ‘why bother,’ but they have no idea that it is the little things that make the biggest impact.
“Don’t stop giving, even if it is a can of food to a shelter or your change to a donation can at the local convenience store,” she said. “Every time you give, you are helping make someone’s day or lifetime.”
Christmas baskets will include a ham, stuffing, potatoes and gravy, corn, ingredients for a green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, dinner rolls and cake and cookie mixes.
To help, patrons can donate money at the registers or purchase an individual item through Dec. 16. The goal for Christmas is 100-120 families, Singletary said.
“It takes about five patrons to build one basket,” Singletary said. “Our cashiers have done an amazing job promoting the cause and are eager to know if we have reached our goal.”
For more information, talk to a Commissary cashier.
“(Donating) is important because there are a lot of people out there who are less fortunate than others, so it is our job as federal employees to help people out,” said Lisa Dunn, Fort Leavenworth Commissary sales store clerk. “It gives people a good feeling to know that they are helping others out. I purchase, too, and I feel good when I do that.”
Bradley and MacArthur Elementary Schools student councils are adopting families through Catholic Charities for the holidays.
The Bradley student council is adopting a family of five, which includes a 9-year-old, an 11-year-old and a 15-year-old.
“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,” said Allison Pierce, Bradley student council faculty representative and English as a second language teacher. “Modeling and sharing the importance of giving will inspire students to be kind and charitable as they continue to grow up.”
To donate, take a gift tag off the bulletin board by the Bradley front office, purchase the item and return it to the school by Dec. 6. Gifts range from clothing and toys to household items and toiletries.
“Every donation, no matter the size, adds up,” said Ally Jackson, Bradley student council faculty representative and fourth-grade teacher.
The MacArthur student council is adopting eight families — one for each grade, preschool through sixth grade — for the holidays. Families range from four members to nine.
“It is so important for our students to participate in this service project so that they can realize not all families have a home to live in or clothes to wear or toys or food or everyday things that they may take for granted,” said Colleen Hilaire, MacArthur student council faculty representative and preschool teacher. “This project helps our students to think of others instead of just themselves this holiday season. At the end of the service project, when they see everything we collect, they are all filled with so much joy. They feel happy that they had a part in making someone else’s Christmas special this year.”
To donate, MacArthur families can contact their student’s teacher for needed items and return items to the school by Dec. 12.
Patton Junior High School’s National Junior Honor Society is also helping Catholic Charities with a warming tree that will be in the Tiger Pit Dec. 2-13.
“The warming tree has become a tradition at Patton Junior High and something the students continue to be passionate about,” said NJHS faculty representative Jennifer Heronema, Patton instructional impact coach. “A focus of the NJHS chapter is to stimulate a desire to render service, to promote leadership, to develop character and to encourage good citizenship in the students of secondary schools.
“The warming tree allows NJHS students to model leadership and community involvement for students at Patton Junior High,” she said. “Additionally, it is important for students to give during the holidays to remember to help those in need that might not have the conveniences or resources that they have.”
Students and families are encouraged to bring canned goods, gloves, hats and coats. All donations can be dropped off at the school office.
As holiday plans continue to form, don’t forget about families in need and help any of these projects.