Article by Sidney Sullivan and Julian Temblador / USAG Bavaria Public Affairs
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — USO Bavaria conducted its fourth annual Thanks for Thanksgiving program on Saturday, Nov. 21. Throughout the morning, 360 bags — filled with everything needed for a traditional Thanksgiving meal — were distributed from the Grafenwoehr Commissary to service members.
According to USO Bavaria Area Director Carly Harris, this event was a team effort.
USAG Bavaria Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Service Credit Union, USO Bavaria and tenant units all worked cohesively to ensure the event was successful and safe. Before Soldiers picked up their bags, they sanitized their hands, signed into a contact tracing list, and wore masks during the entire duration of the event.
USO Bavaria coordinated the event alongside 1st Sgt. Daniel Deen of USAG Bavaria’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company. Service Credit Union helped fund the event with a generous donation. Acting Grafenwoehr Commissary Manager Cynthia Simmons provided the venue and bag contents. And senior leaders distributed the bags to their Soldiers.
Senior NCOs put together bags with a 10 to 12 pound frozen turkey, a roasting pan, stuffing mix, gravy, cranberry sauce, boxed mashed potatoes, canned vegetables, corn muffin mix and a frozen pie.
Once the bags were assembled, the senior NCOs distributed the Thanksgiving bags to their junior enlisted service members, ranking sergeant and below. This signified a way to recognize their outstanding performance and thank them for their service and sacrifices.
“I really appreciate that our units go out of their way to give back,” said Sgt. Braxton Fullmer, a health care specialist with Charlie Troop, RSS, 2nd Cavalry Regiment. “I’m thankful that we still get to enjoy this holiday, even with everything going on right now.”
While Thanksgiving in Bavaria is much different this year, having a holiday meal with immediate family members is still enough, according to Sgt. Javonte Smith of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment.
“For the past two years, I came out here and got a turkey for my wife and kids. It’s a beautiful program,” Smith said. “It actually helps, especially when you have kids and you are trying to get them presents.”
The program was first introduced by the Kaiserslautern Military Community in 1999, as a way to strengthen the relationship between senior NCOs and their junior counterparts. USAG Bavaria adopted the tradition starting in 2017.