By Patrick Robinson, USAG Vicenza internDecember 18, 2012
VICENZA, Italy (Dec. 18, 2012) -- When walking into the post exchange here, might notice a Christmas tree with pieces of paper attached. It's time again for the annual Angel Tree project.
In 2007, the Angel Tree project was launched by Army Community Service in order to help Soldiers who did not have the extra funds to buy holiday presents for their children. It was created by first sergeants; they, along with their noncommissioned officers in charge, nominate Soldiers by completing a form that gives the needed information, such as gender, age, clothing size, and likes, about the children in those families.
The Angel Tree Project is centered on donations.
"There is no set dollar amount and we leave it up to the person contributing to decide on the amount they can or will spend," said Hanna Leong, a victim advocate and one of this year's Angel Tree associates. "School-age children can always use warm coats, gloves, scarves, hats and fun school supplies."
Teenagers often times are harder to find a gift for and because of that, gift ideas are provided on the trees; some of the more popular gifts for teenagers are gift cards, iPod accessories, headphones, bath sets and fragrances.
According to Leong, the program has helped more than 310 families and 680 children over the last five years with the numbers of those assisted growing each year. In order to have given these families and children gifts, organizations and individuals alike have been very active and generous in their participation and donations.
Each year, a notable number of community, student, and private groups have taken part in the Angel Tree Project. However, individuals and families also take part in the project. The Angel Tree Project is sustainable only through the support of these groups and individuals.
"I have seen how donations from the Angel Tree Project create a positive effect and it is great knowing that a small gesture from our community can make such a difference to our Sky Soldiers and their families," said 1st Sgt. Timothy Jensen, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team rear detachment.