GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — The warehouse at the Grafenwoehr Commissary buzzed with excitement on the morning of Nov. 23 as 350 service members filtered through to receive baskets full of ‘all the fixings’ for their traditional Thanksgiving meals at USO Bavaria’s third annual Thanks for Thanksgiving event.
Thanks for Thanksgiving supports enlisted service members in the rank of sergeant and below by recognizing their outstanding performance and thanking them for their service and sacrifices.
This is an opportunity for leaders to thank some of their hardest working Soldiers, said U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria Command Sgt. Maj. Micheal Sutterfield.
USO coordinates the event, ensures enough donations are received to meet the needs, and works with the commissary to get the supplies from industry partners.
A lot of work goes into coordinating this event — from recruiting volunteers to communicating with the Garrison sergeant major to coordinating with the commissary to soliciting donations in order to meet the goal, said Joseph Duran, operations manager with USO Bavaria.
The Garrison command sergeant major works closely with the USO and senior enlisted leaders at the local units to confirm the list of recipients. These leaders are then the face of the event — putting together the meals, handing out the bags, and personally thanking their Soldiers for their hard work and dedication.
“When these Soldiers see their senior leaders out here, they realize how much they actually do care,” said 1st Sgt. Adam Vandewalle, 7th Army Training Command Headquarters and Headquarters Company first sergeant.
As early as 7 a.m., more than 80 volunteers prepared the Thanksgiving packages for the service members and their families, who then filtered through unit by unit to pick up their meals.
“We are grateful to be able to provide this type of program, especially during the holidays,” said Duran. “It’s meaningful and it’s impactful.”
This is the third year that USO Bavaria has teamed up with the Grafenwoehr Commissary to provide these meal baskets for service members and their families. Service Credit Union also provided a large donation for this year’s event.
“Thank you Service Credit Union, DeCA industry partners and generous community members for making it possible for USO Bavaria to host our third annual Thanks for Thanksgiving program,” said Carly Harris, area director for USO Bavaria.
The program originally started in the Kaiserslautern Military Community in 1999 to meet an identified need. This year, the program was executed in the Baumholder, Kaiserslautern, and Grafenwoehr and Vilseck communities.
Photos from the event can be viewed on the USO Bavaria Facebook page.