Exchange Leaders Team Up with USO’s Thanks for Thanksgiving, Bringing Cheers, Smiles to Service Members
Leaders from the Exchange joined forces with the United Service Organizations to thank military members in the Kaiserslautern Military Community with events at Baumholder on Nov. 18 and at Vogelweh Military Complex, Germany, on Nov. 20.
“This is a terrific opportunity for senior leaders to engage with their troops,” said Col. Don Nowlin, Exchange Europe/Southwest Asia/Africa Region commander. “It’s great to be a part of the event and to see leadership out here supporting and helping our junior troops during the holiday season.”
Exchange leaders participated in the annual USO Thanks for Thanksgiving event, in which senior enlisted leaders provided free Thanksgiving packages to junior enlisted service members with dependents. The packages include everything needed to create a Thanksgiving meal: a turkey, ready-to-make side dishes, rolls, dessert, and gift cards from Service Credit Union.
At the Baumholder commissary, Nowlin, along with Kaiserslautern Military Community Center Exchange General Manager Jennifer Jordan and Baumholder Exchange Store Manager Sean Childers, kept the shopping carts full with the prepared meals in bags, while senior leaders personally walked their troops to their vehicles with the packaged meals.
“We are always onboard whenever we can support events like this,” Jordan said. “The Exchange is part of the military community and this is what family serving family is all about.”
At the Vogelweh Military Complex, the event was set up as a drive-through. Associates from the Exchange bakery set up a booth to hand out Krispy Kreme doughnuts and coffee, while USO handed out breakfast burritos, hot chocolate and bottled water. Sgt. Maj. Lemakius Gardner, the Exchange’s Europe/Southwest Asia/Africa Region senior enlisted advisor, handed out Exchange flyers and a few gift cards to the families arriving for their free Thanksgiving packaged meals.
“As a senior NCO, I’m excited to be a part of such a wonderful event that helps our military community,” Gardner said. “This is my first year in Germany and I look for events like this to support. The Exchange is grateful to be included and we are happy to be out helping spread a little holiday cheer.”
Newlyweds and expecting parents Spc. Juan Diaz, with U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center-Europe, and his wife Leslie, were very grateful to receive the Thanksgiving meal items.
“It’s great because it’s really helping us out,” Diaz said. “We are expecting our first baby and so we are preparing for that. Not having to worry about food for Thanksgiving helps to make it be a less stressful time and I’m really grateful for that.”
This year’s USO Thanks for Thanksgiving makes it their 23rd year holding the event. The event saw the distribution of approximately 600 packages.
“Without the support of our senior NCOs, leadership and sponsors, we wouldn’t be able to hold this event,” said Casey Pizzuto, USO area operations manager. “It truly is a community event bringing everybody together for an amazing holiday.”