By Staff Sgt. Brian Bankston, Fort BlissDecember 15, 2008
FORT BLISS, Texas--A group of Fort Bliss Soldiers joined with community churches at the Abundant Living Faith Center for a massive toy drive Dec. 4 and 5, to ensure underprivileged children in the area don\'t celebrate Christmas without receiving some holiday cheer.
The drive was organized by the ALFC with support from the 5th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery and Task Force Counter-Rocket, Artillery and Mortar and other local community volunteers.
"The event allowed our Soldiers to assist the Abundant Living Faith Center for a great cause," said Lt. Col. Daniel O'Grady, deputy commanding officer of the 11th ADA Brigade.
The Soldiers' efforts began Thursday when they helped download a truckload of toys - purchased and donated by members of the ALFC congregation - into two different facilities. The toy drive collected more than 11,000 toys, including dolls, games, sports equipment and stuffed animals. The toys were distributed Friday, between 9:30 a.m. and 7 p.m., to underprivileged students from 14 local schools. More than 6,000 children were bused to the ALFC to receive toys.
"It's not just about receiving, but meeting the needs of other people," said Elena Delman, media director for the ALFC.
Friday began with an annual stage show for the children, "Toy Store Christmas," and was held in ALFC's massive 3,600-seat auditorium. The children were then led to a mountain of toys, which were handed out by both the Soldiers and ALFC volunteers.
"Giving provides the chance to see what really goes on in the real world," said Sgt. Jabari Jennings, the Better Opportunity for Single Soldiers representative for the 32nd Army Air Missile Defense Command.
'Christmas is for Kids' is just one of the many organizations that were helped by this event. "It's important for kids to see that people care and to make a difference in people's lives," said Delman.