Bryan Zenner and Debbie Ratliff, of the Liberty Fruit Company, help distribute produce to volunteers as they assemble boxes of food Dec. 16 at the Fort Leavenworth Commissary. Photo by Cpl. Raymond Benitez-Santana/MWJRCF Battalion (Corrections)

Editor’s note: This is the third and final article in a series about giving opportunities and
holiday activities around Fort Leavenworth.

Members of the Association of the United States Army Henry Leavenworth Chapter
and the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club Lamp Chapter and other volunteers assembled holiday meal baskets for local active-duty families who might need a helping hand Dec. 16 at the Fort Leavenworth Commissary.

Volunteers organized an assembly line of produce, canned goods and dry goods, sorting items into large boxes filled with everything needed to make a holiday dinner for two to 10 people for a total of 108 meal baskets to distribute to local families.

The Commissary helps create the holiday dinner baskets twice a year to support families during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Chaplains and first sergeants assist by identifying the families in their units who might
benefit from the service.

Tom Dials, Association of the United States Army volunteer, and Sgt. Jadarious Moore, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Midwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility Battalion (Corrections), help fill boxes of food for soldiers in need Dec. 16 at the Fort Leavenworth Commissary. Photo by Cpl. Raymond Benitez-Santana/MWJRCF Battalion (Corrections)

Judy Bauer, vice president of the AUSA Henry Leavenworth Chapter, said volunteers
generally turn out in large numbers for the assembly.

Sgt. 1st Class Ashley Neago, president of SAMC, said volunteering for the event helps
the community recognize support from within.

“We’re a joint effort, civilians and soldiers, we all need to come together to help, especially if anyone is in need,” Neago said. “I think it’s awesome to give to the Leavenworth community and just help them out.”

Regenia Singletary, Commissary store manager, said she also views the meal basket tradition as a way to help the community and give back to soldiers.

“A lot of patrons on this post are such givers; they support this program by buying baskets through the checkout. Some of them will buy $100 worth every time they come in,” Singletary said.

Singletary said each basket is filled with $50 or more worth of items. Vendors and community donations supply about $6,000 to complete the baskets.

“We just wanted our customers, our recipients around the holidays, to not have to worry about food or bills, and this is just a way to take that extra holiday burden off their plates,” Singletary said. “If we just get them the main staples, (the basket) frees them up to buy regular groceries, buy that extra toy for their child, or that little something that might be more important. I don’t want anybody to have to sacrifice their holiday
tradition meal.”

Singletary said the planning process starts early to ensure distributors supply the needed
amount of food. She said the basket assembly project does not take items from the sales
floor to support the event, and nobody is turned away as long as patrons and vendors are willing to donate. She said she hopes to expand the effort in the future to support more active-duty families and veterans as well.

Other opportunities
Last-minute shopping? The Fort Leavenworth Spouses’ Club will be wrapping gifts from 9
a.m. to noon Dec. 24 at the Post Exchange.

FLSC is also still collecting nonperishable food items for the Leavenworth Mission Food
Pantry. Donate items on the front porch of 224 Meade Ave. on post or at the Leavenworth
Mission Food Pantry at 1140 Spruce St. in Leavenworth.


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