JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —
The Child and Youth Education Services program at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston distributed toys to military families Dec. 15-18.
The community-wide toy drive was initiated by the School Liaison Office at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston with support from neighboring installations.
“I noticed that we had families in our military community having a hard time providing Christmas gifts for their children,” said Nita Ford-Hightower, JBSA CYES school liaison officer. “Military and Family Readiness was doing an Angel Tree [and] I noticed that we still had a lot of angels on the tree no one had selected.”
Ford-Hightower called community partners and joined hands with them to find out how to get toy donations. In order to make sure they were serving children across JBSA, she worked with school liaison officers at Randolph and Lackland to cover those respective bases as well.
Boxes were set up in a variety of places so toys could be donated at different times depending on operational hours. Toys were primarily donated by people who live and work on each installation, and the drive had special help from organizations such as Operation Home Front and the Fort Sam Houston Spouses Club.
Toys were distributed by appointment in accordance with COVID-19 physical distancing guidelines. Toys went to children of active duty, reserve and guard service members as well as retirees.
The drive brought toys to approximately 300 children at JBSA installations, 53 children through Brooke Army Medical Center’s Angel Tree, 400 children at a local elementary school and 500 children across the three battalions of the 470th Military Intelligence Brigade.
“Seeing the need of community children motivated me to host this toy drive,” Ford-Hightower said. “I used this event to give back. Next year when people donate, I want them to know that we are taking care of kids in the community.”