Volunteers from Army Community Service, the Sergeant Morales Club and garrison chaplains have been spending their time making the holidays a little brighter for boys and girls this season.
The Holiday Assistance Program provides gifts for children through Angel Trees; stocks the ACS food bank; and helps Families in need during the holidays.
“It’s such a huge effort that we could not do it without all the volunteers,” said Federica LeMauk, ACS Financial Readiness Program manager, who is in charge of the HAP.
The Angel Trees are placed at the Exchange; and Clay and Hainerberg chapels. Each tag on the trees contains a wish from a child whose Family may be suffering a financial burden. To participate: take a tag, purchase the gift listed, attach the tag, and place the new, unwrapped item in any Angel Tree box or drop off at ACS.
Besides the Angel Trees, volunteers also prepare bags of groceries at the Commissary that customers can buy while doing their shopping. The contents are then used to stock the food bank at ACS. The bags have a variety of items, including personal care products and ingredients to make a meal, said Tammy Simmons-Tumaliuan, who selects the items and prepares the bags. Each is filled with different amounts of items, so there is something for every budget. Just pick a bag, purchase it at the register when buying groceries and the items inside will go to Families in need.
Anyone can use the food bank, LeMauk said. “There may be Family circumstances that are creating a need. It doesn’t matter what rank you are; we want to offer a little extra help during the holidays.”
ACS volunteers Ann Ewing and Danielle Thompson said volunteering in the program brings them joy. “All of us are drawn to this for children not having something at Christmas,” Thompson said. “Those of us who have a little more can help those who may need a little help during the holidays.”
People wishing to donate a gift through one of the Angel Trees should be sure to not lose the tag, so the gifts will reach their intended recipient. Thompson recommends snapping a picture of the tag immediately. Then, if it gets misplaced, the information will be stored and can be attached to the gift.
The Holiday Assistance Program accepted applications through Dec. 12. All personnel who submitted applications were approved to receive Commissary gift cards and may pick them up from ACS or call (0611)143-548-9202.