WSMR’s Army Community Services gave back to the surrounding community’s service members with a donation drive they organized for the Veteran Center in Las Cruces, N.M.
WSMR ACS Deployment and Survivor Outreach specialist, Candace Gilbert said the idea was brought about during a Survivor Outreach meeting in an effort to combine the Make a Difference Day and Veterans Day. Donations were accepted in September and ended at the beginning of November. Gilbert said the donations were slowly coming in and gained a sudden influx of donations that took up most of the entire facility when it neared the deadline.
“I was very surprised, when we first started we weren’t getting a lot,” Gilbert said.
She said the donations came from WSMR Soldiers and community members and from the Association of the U.S. Army, WSMR Chapter. Chapter president, Allen Tyree said the association decided to help because he realized that ACS was not allowed to ask for donations and he thought ACS would benefit by his association asking the surrounding community for donations. With the help of corporate members of the chapter and a Las Cruces radio station, 101 Gold, Tyree said he was able to help get the word out and bring in a collection of coats and jackets, socks, t-shirts, and several other clothing items.
AUSA also assisted by donating $1,000 to ACS’ Holiday Helping Hands program intended to help Soldiers and community members in need during the holiday season. The funds were obtained from a fall golf tournament held at the WSMR Golf Course.
“We were very proud to be able to help get the news out and get additional help for these homeless veterans,” Tyree said. “This is the need we had this year and AUSA and the White Sands community came together to help these families, both military and civilians.”
Gilbert was able to help transport the donations to the center with the help of 1st Sgt. Eduardo Ruiz and Soldiers form 595 Sapper Co. Sgt. Jeremy Duckett and his wife, Leah, who also donated to the cause, volunteered their personal trailer and their time to help transport the donations. The donations filled the Vet Center’s mobile van and the center’s director, Ruth Offutt’s office with bags full of donations. Offutt said she would display the donations on a table during a cookout and allow the veterans to choose what they would like to take with them. Gilbert said she was excited about the success of this year’s event and hopes to continue with events like these in the future.
“I think it was a great idea and it’s helpful, especially with the cold weather,” Gilbert said. “I’m a veteran so I like to do stuff for veterans.”