Holiday Sharing Program gives Soldiers a boost
November 14, 2013
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- This holiday season, the Chaplains Office will donate $24,000 worth of commissary gift cards to Soldiers and families in need in U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria.
The cards, given in $50 increments, are to help Soldiers with tight budgets pay for their holiday meals. Twenty to 30 cards will be given to each battalion in the garrison to disburse.
The Holiday Sharing Program has been a fixture in USAG Bavaria for nearly a decade.
Each year, the Chaplains Office works with everyone from battalion commanders to company first sergeants to generate a list of Soldiers in need that holiday season.
The criteria for who makes it onto the list varies from family to family. Those with Army Emergency Relief loans, debt, a new baby, "or even single income families with four kids who are just struggling," are eligible for the program, explained Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Barnard, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, USAG Bavaria.
First sergeants disburse the cards to their Soldiers with little fanfare.
"A lot of folks aren't willing to ask for help even though they need it, so we try to do it discretely," said Barnard.
The first set of cards was handed out today to the Bravo Company, Warrior Transition Battalion-Europe. Of the 57 Soldiers in the unit, 25 will receive the gift cards this month.
"They're going through trying times," said 1st Sgt. Darrell Vargas, Bravo Company, WTB-E.
But, the commissary gift cards will help makes the holidays less stressful and more enjoyable for his Soldiers.
"They will get to celebrate Thanksgiving together and take a little less out of their pockets," he said. "They're focusing their vouchers on food so they can buy gifts for the holidays."
The Service Credit Union is also donating $25,750 in commissary gift cards in November and December.