KLSA donates to local organizations

by Mary Cook
KLSA publicity chairwoman

The Kaiserslautern Landstuhl Spouses Association closed out its 2010-2011 year with a bang April 19 during a luncheon held at the Landstuhl Community Club. The club has been in existence for more than 45 years and May 31 will mark another successful year.
The KLSA was honored to host six Kaiserslautern organization representatives at the luncheon where they were awarded $52,000 in donations (accumulative). The organizations included the United Service Organizations, the Red Cross, Army Community Services and the Chaplain’s office, who each received $10,000. The Landstuhl Fisher House received $5,000, and Morale Welfare and Recreation received a $7,000 donation on behalf of the U.S. Army Garrison Special Olympics for their event this year.  

“The KLSA is proud and privileged to be able to give such a tremendous monetary donation back to the community,” said Crystal Curran, the KLSA president.
Funding is generated through donations and consignments that are processed through the Pulaski and Landstuhl thrift shops. These profits have allowed the KLSA to donate more than $150,000 this year and more than $100,000 (yearly) in the past two years.  

“It is exciting for those of us who work in the thrift shops to see just how generous the community can be with their donations. By utilizing our consignment and donation programs instead of a purely for profit approach like yard sale websites, our organization continues to thrive,” said Catherine Messer, the manager of the Landsthul Thrift Shop. “Our customers are aware that our profits generate funds that will go back to the community to benefit programs, like the Red Cross, USO and KMC Scholarship Fund that sustain our community at large.”

Ms. Messer has been with the organization for almost two years and enjoys working and witnessing firsthand the impact that she and all the thrift shop employees and volunteers have on the community.   
The KLSA continues to encourage its members and newcomers to volunteer at the thrift shops and community events. The organization offers a unique opportunity to get involved with many aspects of the community. 

“With PCS season upon us, we have storage sheds that are full of donations and we can’t get them out fast enough. Bring a friend by the Pulaski Thrift Shop and help us process all these great donations, so we have more profit to give back!” said Gloria Gutfleish, the co-manager of the Pulaski Thrift Shop.

Another way the KLSA gives back to the community is through the Welfare Disbursement Program. The KLSA Welfare Committee is made up of executive and club members with oversight support from valued advisers Leif Johnson and Laura Spencer. The club encourages all organization members to participate in this process. 

“It is one of the most fulfilling aspects of our association. We have our standard areas of giving (line items) and we are always looking for new ways to contribute, every request will be considered,” said April Kirby, the KLSA welfare chairwoman.

The KLSA Welfare Committee also awards monetary scholarship grants in collaboration with the Ramstein Officers’ Spouses Club and the Ramstein Enlisted Spouses Association to qualified recipients. The beneficiaries of these awards are high school students, area spouses and college-age dependents of service members stationed in the USAG-K and Ramstein areas. Of the $150,000 distributed this year by KLSA, $30,000 went directly to college scholarships (KMC Scholarship Fund). In addition to the KMC Scholarship fund, a significant portion of their budget each year is set aside for special requests from Department of Defense Dependent Schools-Europe. The KLSA is fully aware that their scholastic programs could always use additional subsidies and the association encourages teachers and school administrators to send in their requests.

Another program that has proven over the years to be one of the most beneficial to the community is the Bright Eyes Program, which provides eye glasses to qualified children in the community. This program will upgrade to offer a package deal ($89.95 up from the current package of $49.95). It is offered through the KMC Optical Shop and is partially subsidized by funds from ROSC. For more information, visit the Bright Eyes website at www.klsagrapvine.org.

As the KLSA transitions this year, they invite you to check out their website and inquire if you have a special talent or have a desire to volunteer and give back to your community.

“It’s a great organization with plenty of opportunities to meet new people and participate in fun social events while contributing to the community,” said Mary Cook, the KLSA publicity chairwoman. “When I got here, I didn’t know very many people and was invited to a KLSA function by a friend of mine. Right away, I felt welcomed and as though I could contribute to the KMC through this organization.”

The KLSA is the only organization that welcomes spouses of all sister services and rank, as well as DOD civilians, contractors, retirees and teachers. The KLSA takes enormous pride in its diversity which contributes to the social aspect of the club. This year they sponsored exciting monthly social events including the annual Oktoberfest event as well as the St. Patrick’s Day event, which featured a local Irish dance troupe.

Recently, Ms. Curran was recognized as a recipient of the U.S. Army Europe Phenomenal Woman Scroll of Impact award for the Kaiserslautern community.  She was recognized for the countless hours spent working to improve the business operations of the thrift stores and has succeeded in doubling profits over the past two years, which doubled donations back to the community.

Ms. Curran will be moving this summer with her husband Bob and their blue and gold macaw Rollie to Jamestown, R.I.

“I am confident with the dynamic board that is stepping up to lead our great organization. We will continue to contribute and make a positive impact on the community,”  she said.

To request further information regarding the KLSA, visit their website at www.klsagrapvine.org. Whether you are a currently a member or an interested newcomer, you are welcome to join them at their final luncheon to say goodbye to the current board members and welcome the new. The luncheon will be held at 11:30 a.m. May 24 at the Landstuhl Community Club (RSVP is required through the website).