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January 10, 2014

A tradition of giving

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Gustavo Bahena
Public Affairs Office NTC and Fort Irwin

The commander of 916th Support Brigade, Col. James Kazmierczak (left) holds a ceremonial check with Joe Madrid, supervisor of the section. The maintenance section contributed $3,000 to the Fort Irwin Food Basket Program.

Traditions are meant to be sustained. So, when the 2013 fall and winter holiday season arrived, staff of the maintenance section for the 916th Support Brigade, here, joined in on the holiday spirit of giving.

The section contributed $3,000 to the 2013 Food Basket Program administered by Army Community Service, here. It was the second year the section staff contributed to the program and the fourth year the workers had provided funds during the holidays, said Joe Madrid, supervisor for the section.

The brigade’s maintenance section is staffed by eight federal employees, said Madrid. They raised $1,000 through hot dog sales during the year, knowing they would be giving it to the Food Basket Program. The additional $2,000 came to the section from the Charles Tillman and the Tillman Family Trust. Tillman, a cornerback with the Chicago Bears football team, is associated to the section by way of his wife, Jackie, who is Madrid’s daughter.

The Food Basket Program facilitated the distribution of food baskets during last year’s holidays for servicemembers (in grades of E4 or below) and their families, who were experiencing financial hardship. Three hundred and eight baskets were provided for Thanksgiving and another 300 for Christmas, with all the baskets being purchased with donations, said Bob Lucas, manager of the Food Basket Program and Army Emergency Relief program.

Servicemembers were selected by unit first sergeants and the baskets were provided by the Fort Irwin DeCA Commissary, said Lucas. Commissary vendors contributed half the cost of the baskets, which had a $65 value. The Food Basket Program fund provided $18,000 to complete the baskets.

Madrid emphasized that, similar to him, most of his staff retired from the military, with two employees having served as first sergeants – noncommissioned officers who understand the challenges junior enlisted Soldiers experience. He said that military life can be tough for young Soldiers and their families. For that reason, his staff is willing to help out.

“That’s what it’s all about,” Madrid said.

The maintenance section also helped out by contributing to two Fort Irwin Fire Department “Toys for Tots” campaigns in past years. The staff would like to continue providing funds to holiday programs, Madrid said.

“We hope to do it again next year,” he said.




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