FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- At a time when many people's thoughts are turning to gratitude, Soldiers from 10th Brigade Support Battalion are focused on showing their thanks to the local community and supporting the less fortunate.

Soldiers from A Company volunteered Friday to support Watertown Urban Mission staff in set- ting up for their annual "Christmas Dreams Made Possible" fund-raiser.

"We take donations that we have received throughout the year that are Christmas supplies, and we put them out for sale for a three-week period," said Drew Mangione, Watertown Urban Mission director of development. "Last year, just from the sale of Christmas supplies, we raised more than $5,000."

The funds raised are used to provide a variety of services to community members.

They provide food for people who are hungry, prescriptions for those who cannot afford them, and counseling and services for those struggling to overcome addictions.

"What the Soldiers are doing today is giving us the opportunity to set up the store quickly and efficiently so that it can be as profitable as possible, so that we can then help people in need," Mangione said.

The group of about 15 Soldiers spent the day unloading trailers and unpacking boxes of decorations, toys and gifts. They assisted Urban Mission volunteers in organizing these items in preparation for the sale.

First Lt. Rachel Stuhlmiller, A Company's Transportation Platoon leader, said that the fund-raiser provided an opportunity for Soldiers to practice selfless service -- one of the Army's core values.
"We just got back from deployment in October, and it means a lot for them to be able to give back and help other people," Stuhl-miller said.

During their deployment, members of A Company encountered civilians who were living in extremely impoverished neighborhoods.

This experience instilled in them a deeper desire to help the less fortunate in their local community, Stuhlmiller said.

"Sometimes when we are working through a lot of challenges of our own, helping others can really be a part of the reintegration process," she said.

Pfc. Caleb Rouse grew up in a neighborhood that was relatively poor, but he said he had never witnessed anything like the conditions in which Afghan children lived.

"Before I went to Afghanistan, I had never done anything like this," Rouse said. "After seeing what I did (during deployment), it made me want to help."

The "Christmas Dreams Made Possible" fundraiser will run 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays until Dec. 15 at Watertown Urban Mission's Impossible Dream Thrift Shop, 247 Factory St. For more information, go to or visit them on Facebook.