ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- The depot's 2017 Christmas Cheer program culminated Dec. 13 with the delivery of three truckloads of gifts and bicycles to Calhoun County's Department of Human Resources office in Anniston.
This year, 200 children in protective custody with DHR will receive gifts due to the generosity of depot and tenant employees.
Several cost centers throughout the depot donate money to Christmas Cheer, leaving the shopping to Jeanette Baxter and her team of volunteers.
One of those volunteers, Cat Rossiter, has been assisting with the Christmas Cheer program for 14 years and it has become a family event as her grandson began to help her shop each year.
"The guys in our shop just give, especially when you mention kids," said Rossiter, who works for the Test, Measurement and Diagnostic Equipment Support Center, a tenant at ANAD. "I'm very humbled by the depot. I've never seen any group give to their community as much as these people do. It's a family out here."
The depot's history with Christmas Cheer began in 1983 with assistance given to fellow ANAD employees. That year, coworkers banded together to provide food for the holidays for those in need.
The installation employees quickly began to look outside the installation's gates.
In 1997, the program teamed up with DHR, supporting 58 children that year.
Depot Sgt. Maj. Ronald Ferdinand said he was proud to see the outpouring of support from the depot to the community.
"In my 28 years in the Army, I've never seen an organization this tight with their community," he said.
For each child, employees gave gifts valued between $150 and $200. This means depot and tenant employees gave more than $30,000 in support of the children.
Department of Human Resources case workers will ensure the wrapped gifts make it to the homes of sponsored children before Christmas Day.
"This matters more than you can know because it takes a lot of stress off families who are under a lot of stress," said DHR interim director Marsha Busby as she noted that many parents will purchase gifts for their children only to find they don't have the funds to then pay their bills.
Christmas Cheer also allows depot employees to sponsor installation families. Coworkers who experienced hardships this year and have financial needs are approved through depot leadership for participation in this program.
These installation families are anonymous to contributors - only identified by a number and the family's situation.
This year, depot and tenant employees gave $6,060 to five depot families.