FORT KNOX, Ky. — Christmas time is the perfect time to give.
So say officials at the Fort Knox Red Cross, who devote 365 days of every year to the art of lending a helping hand to those who need it most.
“There are a lot of things we do for people,” said May Giulitto, director, Service to Armed Forces at the American Red Cross. “People don’t know about some of these because we’re bragging about it because it’s all about families, and kids.”
Those who are interested in volunteering to help Soldiers and their Families have different ways they can do that, according to Giulitto.
The most immediate way to help is by donating blood, she said. The next blood drive will be held at the Hansen Center Dec. 7, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Another way people can give is by volunteering to help out in Santa’s Workshop and Candy Cane Lane.
The workshop and Candy Cane Lane have a “Shopping Week,” when qualified families arrive at a scheduled time and date to shop for presents or pick up packages that have been prepacked by Red Cross elves. The workshop provides parents an opportunity to pick out gifts for their children, while children are busy at Candy Cane Lane picking out gifts for their parents.
Six volunteer elves work in each shift to help the families pick, package and load up the gifts. Elves also greet families, restock shelves and look for additional gifts located in other storage rooms.
This year’s shopping week runs Dec. 6-10. Volunteers can go HERE for more information and to sign up for dates and times. Officials ask that volunteers show up 15 minutes prior to the start of their shift.
A good way to donate that many may not realize, according to Giulitto, is through the purchase of gift cards at various shopping locations.
“Gift cards are a great way to help,” said Giulitto. “I’m not saying people can’t donate toys, but gift cards help a lot of different people from different age ranges and needs.”
Denise McGillen, a volunteer at the Fort Knox Red Cross headquarters, agreed.
“Teenagers, for instance, are very finicky on what they get,” said McGillen. “Giving a teenager a gift card is pretty normal for them.”
The Red Cross offers several programs that provide help for folks throughout the year. The best way for folks to volunteer assistance or receive it is to call 502-624-2163.
These and so many more ways to help offered at the Red Cross, said Giulitto, but many come with stipulations and deadlines for applying for assistance. While the Red Cross wants people to reach out through the right channels and follow the deadlines, that doesn’t mean they won’t be there for families if they don’t.
“Last-minute stuff happens; I get it,” said Giulitto. “We will assess situations on a case-by-case basis when they call us, and if we can’t help them, we’re not going to turn anybody away.
“After all, it’s Christmas.”