***image1***You just know the holiday season is officially here. The air is brisk. Your cheeks are red. And, you can hear the sound of bells ringing as you approach the Ramstein Base Exchange and Commissary.
It’s the annual bell ringing program, hosted by the KMC Top 3. From now to Christmas, bell ringers will be outside the base exchange store and commissary on weekends during store hours. Their mission is to collect, and give, a little something extra to the KMC’s junior enlisted troops for the holidays.
And, they’re hoping shoppers will drop some money into their red boxes.
“All it takes is that little extra change in your pocket,” said Senior Master Sgt. Donita Curtis, who is chairing this year’s bell ringing program, which is part of the Holiday Cheer program hosted by the First Sergeants.
Last year, all that extra change added up to more than $34,000, putting a little something extra in the Chirstmas stockings of 710 servicemembers and their familes. “It all adds up,” Sergeant Curtis said.
Each year, master sergeants, senior master sergeants and chief master sergeants, take turns ringing these bells around base. It’s similar to the Salvation Army’s bell ringing program back in the states.
“We want to make sure that senior enlisted are taking care of the junior enlisted,” Sergeant Curtis said.
Anyone can volunteer to ring the bell with the senior enlisted troops.
“You can sign up for a day, a weekend or even an hour,” Sergeant Curtis said.
And, euro change is accepted too.
“This is one of the best, and easiest ways, to show our enlisted troops how much they mean to us,” said Brig. Gen. Rich Johnston, KMC and 86th Airlift Wing commander. “By giving our extra change, we are helping our own. The holiday season is the perfect chance to let our troops know that as a community we appreciate their service.”
The money collected each year is divided in half. One half is used for holiday baskets at Christmas time and the other half will be saved for next year’s Thanksgiving baskets. Every penny raised helps Airmen, Soldiers and Sailors and their families in the KMC.
“We’re proud of our servicemembers and this program is the community’s way of saying ‘Thank you for a job well done and we wish you and yours a happy holiday season,’ ” said Col. Earl Matthews, 435th Air Base Wing commander.
First sergeants, keeping in close contact with their troops, make a list of Airmen who would welcome a little something extra for the holidays.
“The first shirts know families who have medical expenses or large families, or who need a little bit of extra help,” Sergeant Curtis said.
So, like Santa, the first sergeants make a list and no one sees it. The money is divided among all the families – given to them in the form of a check to be used only at the commissary.
“Everyone gets something,” Sergeant Curtis said.
To volunteer, contact Senior Master Sgt. Donita Curtis at
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 480-9316.