Okinawa Soldier epitomizes the holiday spirit
December 21, 2012
OKINAWA, Japan -- For some, the holidays are a time to spend with family and friends, a time to celebrate the season and also a time to give to those less fortunate than themselves.
Sgt. Jonathan Pitts, assigned to 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment, is no different. On Nov. 17, he and other members of Okinawa's Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program attended the annual BOSS Ball at Havana's on Torii Station. Among the evening's events was a raffle drawing for a new Apple iPad valued at $500.00.
Pitts was understandably ecstatic when his name was announced as the winner of the iPad, something he did not already have. But he thought to himself, "It's cool, but I don't need it."
He looked at the Army Community Service Angel Tree that still held angels who needed sponsoring. He thought that he could return the iPad to the Base Exchange and with the $500.00 credit, he would be able to purchase ten $50.00 gifts for ten of the angels.
"I didn't need it. I wanted it, but I thought I can do something better than just have a new toy. I can give a bunch of new toys to others who would appreciate them a lot more," said Pitts. "Something my dad told me a long time ago is that you don't have to do everything all the time, you just have to do a little bit when you can and you can make a difference. I saw an opportunity to do something to help others and I did it."
But there were more than ten angels left on the tree. In fact, there were twenty-four angels left on the tree.
That didn't deter Pitts, the BOSS treasurer, and another Soldier assigned to 1/1 ADA, Spec. Anneliese Schaefers, the BOSS vice-president. They decided to take all of the remaining angels and contribute their own cash, along with a donation from another person who wishes to remain anonymous, and purchase gifts for all of the remaining angels on the tree.
"I didn't have everything while I was growing up, but I was always provided for. I have everything I need now. I'm single, I'm a sergeant in the U.S. Army, I can provide for myself and others easily," said Pitts.
Pitts' spirit of giving includes volunteering to help out community events by appearing as Santa Claus. On Dec. 14, members of U.S. Army Garrison Torii Station, along with Pitts as Santa, delivered Christmas gifts to children at a local special needs school.
"When we got to the school, the kids started cheering, dancing and singing and I thought, "This is so cool." I didn't know there were specific toys for each one of the kids, I thought I was just handing toys out," he said. "This was really one of the most rewarding things I've done in my whole life. I've never seen kids faces light up like that when they opened their presents. It was awesome over and over again each time one of them opened their gift."
He was also Santa Clause for Torii Station's tree lighting ceremony held Nov. 30.
"That was cool. I rode in on a fire truck and I got to flip the switch to turn on the tree lights," said Pitts. "The kids all wanted the latest and greatest gadgets and gizmos. A 4-year-old told me he wanted an iPad so he can take pictures, listen to music and play games on it."