With the support of Third Army, the Gittens' Family brought early Christmas presents to the servicemembers at Camp Arifjan Dec. 23.

Every year, Operation Gift Basket brings the local community together to show their appreciation to the U. S. Military by distributing gifts to deployed Soldiers thanks to Sheila Gittens and her family.

Servicemembers have received more than 250,000 gift baskets thanks to the event since it started 15 years ago.

"Early in 1994, my son and Desert Storm veteran, Donnie, passed away from kidney problems," said Gittens. "To give back, my husband and I organized a traditional Thanksgiving meal and fed more than 2,500 servicemembers in honor of our late son."

The organization has grown over the years. This year's event at Camp Arifjan featured gifts such as laptops, DVD players, televisions, and car stereos as a way to give thanks to those who serve.

"We are struck by U.S. servicemembers incredible resolve and unwavering
professionalism," said Gittens. "We were equally touched by their age. Many of these people who have left their homes are younger than our son,
Donny."

The key to Operation Gift Basket being a success is because of the support of volunteers, local leaders, and businesses who donate time, money, and gifts to the program.

"Volunteers worked around the clock to wrap each gift and stuff the baskets," said Gittens. "Bolts and bolts of wrapping paper, miles and miles of ribbon and thousands of rolls of tape were used."

Operation Gift Basket began in Kuwait 15 years ago, and now thanks to the logistical support of Third Army, reaches Iraq, Qatar and Afghanistan.

Just like these troops who never give up and maintain their resolve, I am also determined," said Gittens. "We do this for the young men and women. We do this for America and the coalition forces. We do this for Donny."

"May God bless our Soldiers, Airmen and Marines that are sacrificing their lives so that the world can live in peace and harmony," she added.

Page last updated Wed December 30th, 2009 at 03:10