Story and photos by Rick Scavetta
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs
Dozens of people gathered at the Panzer Exchange mall for the kick-off of Operation Angel Tree, a holiday event that benefits junior service members facing financial hardship, Nov. 21.
The program, hosted by USAG Stuttgart’s Army Community Service, runs until Dec. 13. Deserving families, with sponsors from pay grade E-1 to E-5 and civilian grades GS-6 and below are eligible.
For Kathryn McNeely, deputy to the garrison commander, it’s the third year she’s taken part in this gift donation. Her child is grown, so she enjoys having a chance to offer something to a child in need, she said.
“This is just one small way that you can give back to the community,” McNeely said.
The idea for an angel tree comes from the Salvation Army. The program began in 1979 in a shopping mall in Virginia. Back then, children would use greeting cards with angel images to write their hopes for gifts and place them on the tree. Shoppers would select a card and purchase a gift base on the angel card. Later, Nashville radio, CNN and the Larry King Show promoted the idea, launching a nation-wide effort.
The garrison headquarters team picked paper two angels from the tree for an 11-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy, McNeely said.
“Those are some of the hardest years of being a kid, and being a military child,” McNeely said. “I have a lot of fondness for tweeners and young people coming of age. If we can help make their holidays a little better, then that will be a good thing.”
The Angel Tree will be displayed at the Exchange until Dec. 13. Community members can pick a child from the tree, purchase holiday gifts for them, then drop off those gifts at ACS on Panzer Kaserne or the Exchange’s customer service section. All gifts will be delivered to Angel Tree recipients Dec. 18-19.
For more information, call or 596-3362 or 09641-70-5963362