The holiday commercials have started and Christmas decorations are popping up in stores around the area. For many, the holidays are filled with gifts, Family and fun, but for some in the community, they can be stressful.
The Holiday Hearts program aims to alleviate this stress by connecting deserving Army Families with others who want to provide these Families with gifts during the holiday season.
“It gives folks an opportunity to give back to our Families who truly need the help,” said Cathy Mansfield, Volunteer Services coordinator, Army Community Service. “We have Families that may have one vehicle and they had to sink a huge amount of money into a repair, therefore Christmas gifts for their kids may not be a priority. We get situations like this and those are the ones that we try to ensure are top priority.”
ACS, Installation Volunteer Services and the Armed Services YMCA of Fort Bragg coordinate the annual program, which began in 2003.
Soldiers can apply for this program if they have a verifiable financial situation or other hardship and are in pay grades private through corporal or specialist. Those in pay grades E-5 and E-7 or O-3 and below may apply if they have an extraordinary situation or other extenuating circumstances.
When completing an application, Soldiers should list only those children currently living with them as gift recipients.
These Soldiers must have their applications signed by their first sergeant or commander with a detailed explanation of the reason for recommendation to the program. This signature serves as confirmation of the Soldier’s financial situation.
Applications are due to the ACS/IVS office by the close of business, Friday.
If a Family’s application is approved, each child will receive, at minimum, a clothing item and age-appropriate toy. Infants under 12 months will receive diapers, wipes, one clothing item and an age-appropriate toy.
The Holiday Heart tree is located in the IVS area on the third floor of the Soldier Support Center. Individuals interested in providing gifts can pull hearts from the tree and bring the unwrapped gifts to the ASYMCA building by Dec. 6. All gifts must be unwrapped.
Mansfield encourages members of the community to take a Holiday Heart.
“It’s a great opportunity for office groups, civic groups, etc. to adopt an entire Family and buy the gifts,” she said. “We want to think that the holiday season is truly a season of giving — and this is the perfect opportunity for our community to share in this.”
For more information on the Holiday Hearts program, or to download an application, visit