A new toy
Jamie Taylor, an Army spouse, watches as Michelle Thomas, U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern's Army Community Service director, helps her son Dustin, 2, pick out a gift during a recent gift-giving event at the Kaiserslautern Community Activities Center on Daenner Kaserne, Germany.

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany (Dec. 27, 2012) -- More than 600 families in the Kaiserslautern Military Community will have a few extra gifts this holiday season thanks to local people's generosity.

Army Community Service's annual holiday assistance toy drive began Oct. 25, and wrapped up Dec. 9. On Dec. 11, ACS staff put roughly 2,500 toys on display, nearly filling the ballroom at the Kaiserslautern Community Activities Center on Daenner Kaserne.

Sgt. Erick Galkowski, 26, of the 773rd Civil Support Team, said he appreciates it when the Army organizes holiday support to local families. He picked out something for his daughter, Aleksandra, 2.

"It makes it nicer over here and it allows us to have something better to give your kids," Galkowski said. "It gives you the opportunity to save some more money."

The Kaiserslautern Military Community has a history of supporting service members during the holidays, said Jeffrey Crisp, U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern's civilian deputy commander.

"The fact that we come together as one, to do something special for our Soldiers and their families, is just amazing," Crisp said. "And it gets bigger and better every year."

The program is designed to reduce the stress parents who may not have the means to provide presents during the holidays, Michelle Thomas, ACS director at U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern. It's grown over the past few years, because community members believe in family, Thomas said.

ACS partnered with the Kaiserslautern Landstuhl Spouses Association and Service Credit Union, organizations that increased the success level this year, she said. The garrison's chapels also donated thousands of dollars for Soldiers to take home commissary gift certificates.

"As a community we are family. We're away from our loved ones in the (United) States. All we have is each other," Thomas said. "We come together to make sure that everyone has a wonderful Christmas, a wonderful holiday."

During AFN Kaiserslautern's annual Holiday Spirit Drive, ACS joined the Air Force Angel Tree and Marine Corps Toys For Tots program to collect toys during the season. During the daylong event, community members donated hundreds of gifts. The Kaiserslautern Military Community Sergeants Major Association rolled up $500 worth of toys in two shopping carts. One older gentleman dropped off a child's bicycle.

"Our community members always answer the call," Thomas said. "They are so giving. They believe in family."

Page last updated Thu December 27th, 2012 at 08:20