We give gifts on significant days in life such as wedding anniversaries, birthdays and even some holidays. This year, the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division Unit Ministry Team (UMT) decided they didn’t want to wait for the next significant day for gift giving.
Maj. Ismael Serrano, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team Chaplain, explained that his team decided to give small gifts of candy to as many of the single Soldiers living in the barracks as possible referring to them as “blessing bags.”
“These blessing bags are intended to show our Soldiers that through everything we’ve been doing and all the craziness of 2020 that they matter,” he said. “It’s not so much about just giving them candy and trying to do a big show.”
In addition to the candy, the bags also included a note from the brigade commander and command sergeant major which was intended to show the Soldiers that they are important and are the unit’s number one priority.
Serrano explained further why his team decided to put this together. “This seemed like the perfect time,” he said. “We are always training and away from loved ones being here on the island and this bag says it best…just because you matter.”
The bags were rounded out with a collective list of resources available included times and locations for the various worship services available at the chapels on post, information on the unit’s Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) program.
The Soldiers receiving the bags were not told about this event and were most surprised and thankful for the small gesture of appreciation.
Pfc. Joseph Hongel, a mortarman assigned to 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, said, “I was kind of surprised that leaders were walking around giving gifts. It’s good though as it kind of boosts morale a little bit and makes us feel like we aren’t forgotten.”
“Many of the Soldiers we handed out these blessing bags to were surprised and had big smiles on their face which is what we are going for,” explained Serrano. “Whatever has stressed them out up to this point we just want them to know that someone was thinking about them.”