Angels in the KMC
By Senior Airman Timothy Moore, 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 25, 2014
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- The 2014 Angel Tree program kicked off at the Kaiserslautern Military Community Center here, Nov. 17 and will continue through Jan. 5, 2015.
Headed by the Kaiserslautern Military Community First Sergeant Council, Angel Tree is an annual program that helps provide financial relief to military families during the holiday season.
First sergeants are primarily responsible for identifying families that may need help. In 2013, more than 200 KMC families, with more than 400 children received aid, to include money and commissary gift cards, through donations provided via the program.
"Through our jobs, we get to know our Airmen and learn when they have run into some hard times," said Master Sgt. Timothy Bliefnick, 86th Comptroller Squadron and Wing Staff Agencies first sergeant. "They had extra car repairs or had a new baby, and they are struggling to get back on track. With this program, we take the money we collect and turn it right back into helping those that need it for the holidays."
The first sergeants also look toward other members, especially direct supervisors and other leadership, to also identify Airmen that may need help.
"It's a team effort," said Master Sgt. Gilbert Machuca Jr., 603rd Air Communications Squadron first sergeant. "The reality of it is we can't be everywhere. Chances are an immediate supervisor has better insight into an Airman's situation because they may be a little guarded."
To donate, locate one of the designated trees. Each tree is decked out with decorations and donation envelopes. Take an envelope, place the donation in the envelope and insert the sealed envelope into the designated collection box next to the tree.
There are thirteen trees set up throughout the KMC area. They are located in the KMCC, the Ramstein Express, Vogelweh shoppette, Ramstein Northside and Southside Chapels, Vogelweh Chapel and Ramstein and Vogelweh commissaries.
Though the cards give suggestions for how much to donate, everyone is encouraged to give whatever they can.
"It's based purely on the generosity of other folks," Machuca said. "People can donate whatever they can afford in the way of money, gift cards or whatever they are willing to give."
All forms of donation are welcomed, but Bliefnick and Machuca agree that cash donations are usually easier for people to give as well as easier to manage when it comes to allocating funds to the different families.
Money donated after Dec. 12 will be routed back into programs such as Operation Warm Heart, which helps Airmen similar to the Angel Tree program but throughout the entirety of the year.