Now's time to make  difference, enjoy beginning  of holiday season
Col. Deborah Grays Garrison Commander Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem

Commander's Message
Garrison Commander
Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem

Now that Thanksgiving is over, the holiday season is kicked into high gear and has just gotten busier for all of us.

While we hustle to buy those treasured gifts (hopefully, on sale!), it's important to take time to enjoy the season, to remember to make a difference in the lives of others and to remember to be safe. Nothing quite starts the holiday season off like the lighting of the Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem Christmas trees.

The Fort McPherson tree-lighting ceremony will be held Tuesday at the Post Library; the Fort Gillem tree-lighting ceremony will be held Thursday at the Getaway club.

Both events will start at 5 p.m. The Soldier tree-lighting ceremony will be held Dec. 9 at 3 p.m. at the flag pole on Fort McPherson.

The ceremonies will have entertainment for the entire Family - from music and singing to train rides for the children and, of course, a visit by Saint Nick.

Because of the tree-lighting ceremonies, the daily Retreat ceremony will be rescheduled to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.

I invite you to attend any or all of the ceremonies to help usher in the holidays Fort McPherson- and Fort Gillem-style.

One way to provide help within our military community is to participate in the holiday voucher and Operation Gift campaigns.

In the coming weeks, while you're shopping for toys and goodies, dig a little deeper in your pocket or purse and buy a children's toy to place in the drop boxes marked "Operation Gift."

Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem Soldiers in pay grades E-5 and below who have children and a financial need, as determined by their unit commander, are eligible to receive a holiday food voucher and will have the opportunity to "shop" through your donated gifts for their children, ages newborn to 17 years old.

Your donations of new, unwrapped toys can provide a fuller Christmas stocking for these children of Soldiers.

Operation Gift donation boxes are located at Fort McPherson at Army Community Service, Bldg. 62, and the garrison headquarters, Bldg. 65, and other locations throughout Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem. Soldiers approved for the program can pick up their voucher and gifts Dec. 15 and 16 from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. at Bldg. 58 on Fort McPherson.

The staff is also accepting monetary donations for the holiday food vouchers. Donations of money and toys are tax deductible.

For more information, contact Kathy Epps, event coordinator for Operation Gift, by phone at 464-4363 or by e-mail message to, or call Dianne McDonald, event coordinator for the Holiday Food Voucher Program, at 464-4070.

As you enjoy the traditions of the holiday season, keep safety in mind. While a time of joy and good will, this time of year also offers unique safety hazards.

There is no time like today, Black Friday, to think about shopping. Unfortunately, while we're thinking of the perfect gifts, thieves are thinking of an easy mark.

To best protect yourself, shop during daylight hours. If you must shop during darkness - either at night or during very early morning hours, go with a friend.

Avoid wearing expensive jewelry. Do not carry a purse or wallet, if possible.

While you should carry your driver's license or ID card, cash, checks or a credit card you expect to use, avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Pay for purchases with a check or credit card, when possible.

Stay alert to your surroundings. Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to be able to see your surroundings and avoid mishaps. Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason.

Also, be aware in the parking lot - ensure when you're walking through a parking lot you stay alert to the drivers around you. Once home, you may be inclined to wind down from your shopping spree in front of a relaxing fire.

Before lighting up the fireplace, remove any greens, boughs, papers, and other decorations from fireplace area.

Ensure the flue is open. Finally, do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.

Keep safety in mind as you decorate your Christmas tree, attach lights to your home or the greenery outside of it and place holiday decorations. Be especially careful when working on ladders and with electricity.

Now is a very special time of year - a time of giving, of receiving and of spending time with Family and friends. Protect yourself, protect your loved ones and enjoy the holiday season.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16