FORT SILL, Okla.-- Twenty-seven Fort Sill families showed it is possible to take time out from hectic schedules to put family first. They showed the best way to make a difference in the community, is to be a part of it. They were all nominated by their peers as examples of what Family of the Year is all about.

"Our families are the strength of our Soldiers and our Marines. Your importance cannot be overstated as you work tirelessly to improve the quality of life in our community as well as our installation," said Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general.

Each family was celebrated in the Patriot Club Nov. 5 for their unique contributions to areas they personally care about from family readiness groups to the Red Cross to the Humane Society to the 580 Rollergirls to coaching local youth.

"They're all diverse and they all have something in common. They live by example and their hard work is indispensable to the vision that we have for Lawton and Fort Sill. They make it a point to do things together, play together and to help others together. All of them are examples of what a great family looks like," said McDonald.

"November is Military Family Month so it's fitting with Thanksgiving coming around that we do that: we give thanks to these outstanding families for all that you've done," he said.

While McDonald said he would not have wanted to be on the selection committee for choosing the Family of the Year, the Wilkersons were chosen because of the time they make sure they spend together to bond as a family and for the time they spend apart in the community.

"Mrs. Wilkerson is an active member of the PTA and booster club and although she works full time, assists with the Girl Scouts and organizes meetings, camping trips and cookie sales," said Laurie Batule, Army Volunteer Corps program manager.

"(Marine) Staff Sergeant (Jermaine) Wilkerson is a Life Scout and assists his son's Cubmaster at their meetings, Batule said. "He coaches his son's elementary school football team and not only mentors them on sportsmanship, but has even purchased cleats for those players who could not afford them. He officiates youth soccer, basketball and baseball games. He coordinated an effort that brought 42 Marines to assist in a food drive that fed nearly 800 families in the Lawton community."

The Wilkersons came to Fort Sill in 2010 and immediately impacted the area. Their participation in the community was recognized as they were the Fort Sill Family of the Month in January 2012.

Staff Sgt. Wilkerson also received the FCoE Helping Hands volunteer award in April, the City of Lawton Citizen of the Month and the USMC Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal in July, for his exemplary volunteer service to the Lawton-Fort Sill community.

Winona Wilkerson said she believes they won because of her husband's support to the community and her support for her husband.

"Volunteering is very important to my husband," said Winona.

Jermaine said he was raised to give back because it was something his mother did.

"She would always try to help and provide for anyone who needed help. She always was a giving woman," said Jermaine. "I grew up in (Washington,) D.C., and was poverty stricken. I was one of those kids who didn't have much so, if I see someone I can help out with it makes me feel good to be able to provide for them and give them things that I didn't have. Anything they have to help people out we try to be involved in it."

Winona said all of the children are very active in different clubs and sports and the oldest daughter is in collge.

As a token of appreciation for all they have done, the Wilkerson family received a plaque and a 42-inch flat screen television, a $200 gift card from Picerne Military Housing and a free rental for an inflatable play area.

"I'm very proud to have this honor especially being a Marine it feels good because we're on an Army installation. To be recognized as a Marine it really feels good to be noticed for doing something positive in the community," said Jermaine.