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    Idaho National Guard Family Program helps put presents under the Christmas tree

    Idaho Guard helps put presents under the Christmas tree

    Photo By 2nd Lt. Crystal Farris | The Idaho National Guard Holiday Assistance Program is helping 91 military families...... read more read more



    Story by 2nd Lt. Crystal Farris 

    Idaho Army National Guard

    The Idaho National Guard Holiday Assistance Program helped 91 military families throughout the state put presents under their Christmas trees this year.

    The annual event, which falls under the Idaho National Guard Family Programs and is administered by family assistance center specialists within seven state regions, assists families of all components and branches who need assistance for the holidays.

    “The holidays are supposed to be a fun-filled experience for the family,” said Lt. Col. Douglas Uphoff, state family programs director. “A lot of the time it’s stressful because you either can’t provide enough toys or food for your family. This program is for those families that can’t provide those things.”

    Since it began in 2006, the program has been assisting service members whom for whatever reason find themselves in a position where they can’t provide a nice Christmas for their families. By helping military families in their moment of need, the program aims to sustain and develop resilient families through the holidays and beyond.

    “The holiday assistance is a huge defining moment for service members,” said Sonja Warren, state family assistance center coordinator. “They get to wake up in the morning and watch their children have that magic of Christmas.”

    Family assistance center specialists began reaching out by distributing holiday nomination forms to service members and units throughout the state in the first week of November. Families could self-nominate or be nominated by someone else, however, all information was kept confidential throughout the process.

    Families were given the opportunity to indicate the type of assistance they needed, including a list of family members, their ages and types of gifts each wanted. Through sponsorships, the program was able to provide gifts for every member of the family, including parents.

    The types of gifts requested and provided to families ranged from toys such as Legos, Nerf guns and dolls, to board games, makeup, art supplies, hunting equipment and clothes. Most of the time families receive what they ask for so long as it is reasonable, said Warren.

    This year 23 sponsors throughout the state, ranging from local and government businesses to private individuals, contributed to the program. One organization alone, composed of 135 employees, collectively contributed to help as many as 12 families, each with up to five members per family.

    Many contributing sponsors have some sort of connection to the military and return every year in order to give back to the military community, said Tom Obstarczyk, Boise family assistance center specialist.

    “This is a program that binds community together,” said Obstarczyk. “There is no end to the giving in this community, it’s just incredible. People I speak to that come from out of state are just amazed at how well the community is integrated with the military services.”

    In addition to assisting families with Christmas gifts, family assistance center specialists offer information and referral services to service members and their families throughout the year. These specialist are available 24 hours a day and located throughout the state in Boise, Caldwell, Twin Falls, Pocatello, Idaho Falls, Lewiston and Post Falls.

    They provide services or referrals in crisis intervention, legal, financial and TRICARE matters, identification cards, defense enrollment eligibility reporting system and community information and outreach.

    Family assistance center specialists recommend service members reach out whenever they are experiencing a problem or think they are in a situation they need assistance with. For more information visit http://nationalguard.idaho.gov/Family Programs or call (208) 272-4330.



    Date Taken: 12.15.2017
    Date Posted: 12.15.2017 16:48
    Story ID: 259149
    Location: BOISE, ID, US 

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