Rock Island Arsenal, Ill. -- Led by an effort to help Soldiers and their families during this year's holiday season, Rock Island Arsenal volunteers recently built gift baskets at the USO center here, Nov. 30.

As a military spouse, Kathryn Bailey, Joint Munitions Command Air Force Liaison, developed the idea to help local military members, by providing themed gift baskets to distribute during a unit's holiday party or to military families in need.

With assistance from the Rock Island Arsenal Welcome Club, donations provided funds to build each themed basket. In some cases, groups sponsored a basket that they built themselves. More than 50 baskets have been built to distribute during upcoming events.

"Our military have really enjoyed and appreciated having the baskets for their parties," said Jackie Inman, Rock Island Center Director, USO of Illinois. The first baskets were distributed to Soldiers during an USO open house at the center, Dec. 1.

"My goal was to provide approximately 20 gift baskets with ten to twelve items, but when the word got out about our project, we received help from across the country," Bailey noted. "It has been very satisfying that we received so much support to help local military families. I am hopeful that this will be an annual event and I appreciate the team effort involved to make this happen."

Themes for baskets included -- 'Baking with Betty Crocker,' 'Coffee and Chocolate,' 'Movie Night,' and baskets filled with tool box items. Each gift basket was tagged personally with a "Thank you for your service" message.