WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. -- A young mother cried a few days before Christmas because of what the Watervliet Arsenal did to her and to her family.

Did she cry because the workforce was mean to her or to her family' No.

Did she cry because she was angry at the workforce' No.

Did she cry because the Arsenal made a positive difference to her and to her family this holiday season' Absolutely.

This mother is struggling, just as thousands of other Americans are struggling this holiday season, trying to raise a family in midst of a severe recession. Facing a cold December and bleak holiday season, she turned to the City of Watervliet Head Start office for help. She didn't ask for anything for herself. She was there for her three young children.

Elke Betters, the Family Development Specialist for the Watervliet Head Start Program, took this mother's request, as she had for hundreds of other families in Watervliet this year, and turned to an old community friend - the Watervliet Arsenal.

"We have had a great relationship with the Arsenal for nearly 10 years," Betters said. "Thanks to the Arsenal, many Watervliet children, from newborns to 17-year-olds, will have an enjoyable holiday this year."

And so, the young mother's tears were of joy as she collected three large bags of gifts that were given to her by the Arsenal workforce. Before she left, she slowly walked up to everyone in the room and gave them a tear-filled hug. Hard to measure the impact the Arsenal's stroke of kindness had on this family other than to say it must be powerful.

Bob Pfeil, who is the Arsenal Museum Curator and who coordinated with the Arsenal Federal Managers Association for this gift drive, said the Arsenal workforce supported 26 families, with 57 children, this holiday season. In the end, more than $8,600 in gifts were collected.

Not to be outdone, the National Federation of Federal Employees Local Union #2109 also had a gift collection this year at the Arsenal, as they have had for the last 21 years.

Charlie Hannan, who heads the union's efforts at the Arsenal, said the Arsenal workforce provided nearly 600 toys and $400 to the Troy Salvation Army as a result of this year's toy drive.

Finally, in the last month, the Arsenal's Combined Federal Campaign program raised more than $50,000 for numerous charities, said Lyn Wagner who is the CFC coordinator for 2010.

What many outside the Arsenal fence line may not know is the size of the heart of the workforce.

The Arsenal's "heart," in essence its "character," is this month's Arsenal's Face of Strength because of what the workforce does without seeking fanfare or celebration from those outside of the fence line. Whether it is their donating annual leave to a fellow worker or their unwavering support to the community, they always step up to the challenge.