Ansbach Opens Gates to Kinderheim Children
February 1, 2008
ANSBACH, Germany - U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach invited 43 children from Walburgisheim Von Feucht Kinderheim (a children's home) to Storck Barracks for a chance to experience Americana celebrations.
Children from the home, located about 9 miles south of Nuernburg in the town of Feucht, have been annual guests of the Ansbach community during the holidays for more than 20 years, said Helga Moser, German-American liaison for the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade.
The children were treated to bowling, static displays of military vehicles and aircraft, sporting events, games and a kid's favorite pastime - shopping.
And individual sponsors helped gave the children a sense of belonging, Moser said.
She worked through unit family readiness support assistants to help a charitable organization find agency and individual sponsors for the visit.
"The purpose is to give disadvantaged children - those without families - a chance to interact with a family and feel part of one every year," Moser said. "What the children experience (in one day) gives a lasting impression on them throughout the year.
"What is so special about this for them is that they get to interact with American families; the culture and activities are so different from the German ones they are used to," she added. "It is a different way of celebrating the holidays; it is louder and more celebratory as opposed to the 'quieter' season the Germans typically share."
And there was a more personal touch added to this year's event.
"This is the first year that individual sponsors bought gifts for the children," Moser said. "Usually, the gifts are purchased from fundraisers."
Patrik Weichmann, a child visiting for the third time, received a ride in a military police command vehicle, sponsored by Sgt. 1st Class James Hicks.
"I (had) a lot of fun - riding around, playing basketball," Weichmann said.
Other sponsors - such as Air Force Staff Sgt. Scott Seeley, Det. 5, 7th Weather Squadron, and his wife, Jennifer - said sharing was their reason for sponsoring a child.
"We have been fortunate in our lives; we have children of our own; we are compassionate about children; and we want to share love with other children in need," said Seeley. "It is a good way to spend our extra money on somebody else and for a good cause, less fortunate kids."
His wife added: that, "It (was) the holidays! Who doesn't want to make a child smile'"