If the old adage is true that it's better to give than to receive, then the members of the 1st Theater Sustainment Command are doubly blessed this holiday season as they settle into their new homes at Fort Knox and the surrounding communities.
Since the first 1st TSC Soldiers, family members and civilians began arriving in central Kentucky back in April, members of the Fort Knox community have gone above and beyond to make them feel at home and have looked for ways to show their support, said Ashley Razzell, 1st TSC family readiness group leader.
"(The community) has really embraced us, tremendously," she said. "The garrison has really welcomed us with open arms by allowing us to do special events and doing appearances for us that really helped us to integrate."
In order to show their appreciation for this reception, the 1st TSC leadership and family readiness group partnered with the Fort Knox chapter of the Red Cross and launched an initiative they called 1st TSC Gives Back.
From Oct. 1 until Nov. 15, First Team Soldiers collected canned food items for the Red Cross for distribution to families in need both on and off post this holiday season, and they also collected care package items such as hygiene kits, candy, and Suduko books for their Soldiers who are deployed to the Kuwait and other parts of southwest Asia, Razzell said.
At the end of the drive, First Team collected over 500 canned goods for donation, and enough items to make care packages for each of its Soldiers who are scheduled to deploy at the beginning of December. The holiday food drive was the first of many to come, Razzell said.
"Our commanding general (Maj. Gen. Flem B. 'Donnie' Walker Jr.) wants to put down roots here and establish traditions and develop strong relationships between our unit and the surrounding areas," she said.
As a military spouse, Razzell said she understands the importance of making a home out of wherever you happen to hang your hat. She has lived in three different locations over the past few years -- at Fort Gordon, Ga., Fort Bragg, N.C., and Fort Knox -- all of which are over 2,000 miles from where she grew up in California.
"When you travel around as much as we do, you don't really have roots per se, so it's important to establish little roots where you are," she said.
Even though this is only the first holiday season she has spent here, she said members of the community -- particularly the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10281 and the Army Community Service -- has really made her feel at home.
"The VFW has adopted us as their unit," she said. "They're always looks for opportunities to donate items and support us. We do frequent deployments, and they always do cookouts for at the deployment and redeployment ceremonies -- they really want to help in any way they can."
The VFW Post 10281 helped First Team celebrate Halloween by cooking burgers and hot dogs during a trunk-or-treat event, she said, and they are going to provide a Santa Claus for their upcoming holiday party.
"The (Fort Knox) Army Community Services has also been phenomenal," Razzell said. "ACS has customized a pre-deployment and re-deployment brief just for us, and they are doing it on a rotating schedule," she said. "They have demonstrated there are committed to meeting our unique needs as an always deployed organization."Because of all of this support, Razzell said she is proud to be among the first generation of 1st TSC members who will make the area home for years to come, and she was happy to help the unit give back to its new community members this holiday season.