By Scout ReportsNovember 15, 2013
Members of the Fort Huachuca and local communities are invited to share the "giving" spirit through special programs designed to help Families of service members who can use holiday help this year.
Put a turkey on the table, a toy under the tree, or provide food and sundries year-round through the Chaplain's Food Locker.
Turkeys, food items being accepted
From now through Christmas, those working with the Fort Huachuca Chapel Outreach Ministries Program are accepting donations of frozen turkeys, cash or checks to help Families provide a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, said Patricia Reed, volunteer assistant to the Outreach Ministries director. Reed and others also gladly accept other items which Families can use in preparation of a traditional holiday meal.
Give a gift through Giving Tree
Those who would like to help the less fortunate through donation of a durable gift are invited to pluck one or more "ornaments" off one of several Giving Trees currently on display on Fort Huachuca or in Sierra Vista. Deadline to select ornaments is Dec. 1.
Military units have already identified eligible, needy military Families and turned in the information to Outreach Ministries personnel. Chapel volunteers created three tags for each child in each of these Families, with one item listed, per ornament.
"Each child is eligible for a pair of shoes, a clothing item and a toy," Reed stated, adding their requested toy can be a bicycle, but not a Nintendo game or X-Box.
Each ornament lists a Family and child's identification code, the child's age and one of the three items, including size, if applicable.
Those who want to give a gift can select an ornament from the tree, purchase the item, and return both the ornament and the unwrapped gift to Room 6, Main Post Chapel, Monday -- Friday, 9 a.m. -- 4:30 p.m. or during scheduled chapel services. For convenience, people may also turn gifts in to volunteers staffing the Giving Tree booth at the Main Post Exchange when a volunteer is available to accept the gifts.
In addition to selecting the type of gift, donors can choose the child's sex and age.
"My husband and I have given gifts through the Giving Tree program many times," said Joan Vasey, an Army retiree Family member. "We've used different selection criteria every time. My husband and I both went through some very lean years when growing up, and we've selected gifts for boys or girls -- sometimes both -- based on the ages we were when we had an especially bad year. Since we don't have children, it's a way to help a young person have a better Christmas.
"It really makes you feel good," Vasey added. "Best part is, the donation is anonymous."
Giving Trees are located on Fort Huachuca at the Main Post, Kino and Prosser Village Chapels; the Main Post Exchange; and Greely Hall, Reed said. Those who live in Sierra Vista can choose ornaments from Giving Trees at Sierra Vista Flowers and AAA Storage.
This year 116 military Families and 243 children have been selected as Giving Tree recipients. Reed explained that there are usually not enough gifts to go around. Chapel volunteers do the shopping and help fill the gaps; donations from local businesses and the community really help.
On Dec. 18, gifts will be delivered to the Families to allow sufficient time to wrap the presents for Christmas.
Chaplain's Food Locker always open
One venue which helps Families of needy service members all year is the Chaplain's Food Locker.
"We always need items, not just during the holidays," Reed said.
The long-time chapel volunteer said that during a recent visit to the food locker, there was no canned meat, one package of diapers, and paper towels and bathroom tissue were in short supply.
"People have needs [of food and household products] year-round," she added.
Reed said the annual Turkey Bowl helps stock the food locker in time for Thanksgiving. This year's annual football game between 11th Signal and 111th Military Intelligence Brigade Soldiers takes place on Warrior/Sentinel Field 2 p.m., Nov. 22.
"We get a lot of donations [at the game]," she explained, adding that units collect other holiday food offerings through unit-sponsored events or commissary food drives.
"However, we need help year-round. In January, people forget about [the Chaplain's Food Locker]." Reed said, adding that cash donations are also always welcome.
She urges people to check expiration dates on items before donating.
"Please don't donate outdated items," Reed asked. "We have to take those out as we cannot distribute them."
Help military Families have a better holiday through donation of a turkey, toy or holiday meal trimmings.
For more information about any of the programs, call Outreach Ministries, 533.4748.