On Dec. 10, Anniston Army Depot employees assist the Department of Human Resources staff in unloading three trucks fill with Christmas gifts for children in the Family Preservation Program.
On Dec. 10, Anniston Army Depot employees assist the Department of Human Resources staff in unloading three trucks fill with Christmas gifts for children in the Family Preservation Program. (Photo Credit: US Army Photo by Mark Cleghorn) VIEW ORIGINAL

ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala... Despite being in a pandemic, Anniston Army Depot’s workforce sponsored 196 children during this year’s annual Christmas Cheer program. Three truckloads of gifts were delivered on Dec 10.  The children, who range age from infant to 17 years old, are in the Family Preservation Program with the Department of Human Resources.

DHR social workers provided wish lists from each child.  In turn, the depot provided gifts for those children that were purchased and delivered on behalf of the parent.

While traditional items – dolls, sports gear, and ride-on toys – topped the lists, there were requests for jewelry, cosmetics, clothes and digital toys

With a spending cap of $200 per child, employees felt the need to support all of the children in the program.

The depot’s workforce, known for their generosity, followed different rules this year. In the past, organizations donated cash and elected a shopper. This year, there were no cash exchanges, but the employees purchased the requested items and brought them to the worksite, unwrapped (due to COVID restrictions), and collectively delivered to DHR on Dec. 10, 2020.

“In spite of the changes, the workforce has a big heart and they made it happen,” said Alfonso Lewis, the depot’s Christmas Cheer Program coordinator. “I am forever grateful for everyone who went out and bought the things on the wish lists. The turnout was super.”

While this was Lewis’ first year to serve in this capacity, there were a few elves with experience and have seen the kindness shared over the years. “For years, the depot has supported this program, while often helping their co-workers who may have fallen on hard times,” said Kim Smoot, a volunteer for over eight years.

Upon arrival at DHR, Santa’s helpers were met by social workers who ready to help unload. “The response has overwhelming,” said Chanetta Sims, DHR Resource Supervisor. “On behalf of the families, we are so thankful for this amount of assistance. The good news is that these children will wake to find gifts that may not have been possible without Anniston Army Depot.”

In 1983, the depot’s Christmas Cheer program began with assistance to depot employees by providing a can food drive for the holidays.

All through the years, many charitable organizations have benefitted from the workforce’s’ generosity. The program teamed up with DHR in 1997, supporting 58 children that year.