Fort Carson Religious Support Office
FORT CARSON, Colo. — The Fort Carson Religious Support Office (RSO), in conjunction with many community partners, gave close to $170,000 in food and gift cards to help support close to 1,000 Soldiers and their Families at Fort Carson.
The Fort Carson RSO has Operation Helping Hand, which helps Soldiers throughout the year who need a little support due to various financial needs. Soldiers can receive up to $250 in commissary gift cards to offset food expenses during financial emergencies.
Annually, the Fort Carson RSO conducts Holiday Operation Helping Hand. The intent is to provide Soldiers and their Families a little bit more to help cover some of the expenses of the holiday meals.
“The Holiday Operation Helping Hand, along with the other donated food makes it where Soldiers and their Families that would otherwise possibly kill their food budget for a holiday meal, are able to have a holiday meal and not have their grocery budget suffer at the same time,” said Lt. Col. Ric Brown, garrison chaplain, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson. “Holidays are meant as a time to bring joy and create memories, and this reduces the financial stress during this time of the year that often times the budget needs to increase.”
During the 2020 Holiday Operation Helping Hand event, Fort Carson gave out 600, $100 gift cards totaling $60,000 to Soldiers and their Families. For the 2021 holiday season, Col. Nate Springer, garrison commander, challenged Brown to increase that amount to $100,000.
Brown accepted the challenge and made plans to give more commissary gift cards to the Soldiers and Families of Fort Carson.
“It brings great joy to give back to the community,” Brown said. There are amazing benefits that come from this. We get the joy of giving to the Soldiers and their Families, and at the same time, we reduce some of the stress that is felt this time of year.”
The intent was that if donations from community partners didn’t meet that goal, the Chapel Tithe and Offerings would cover the rest.
Annually, various local community partners donate funds to Operation Helping Hand to support the Holiday Operation Helping Hand event.
The word began to spread as individuals who were part of the annual community partners began to share with others interested in providing assistance how they could help. As a result, private individuals and community partners donated over $120,000 to the Holiday Operation Helping Hand fund. The Chapel Tithe and Offerings contributed over $50,000 to the RSO Holiday Operation Helping Hand fund.
With the community partners’ financial donations and the Chapel Tithe and Offerings, the Religious Support Office was not only able to increase the number of Soldiers and their Families that were taken care of, but the RSO also increased the amount given to each Soldier and their Families who were identified by their unit chaplain, in conjunction with the unit command teams. This year Holiday Operation Helping Hand gave each identified Soldier and Family a $150 commissary gift cards.
“Year after year we always hear how amazed the Soldiers and Families are that someone really cares about them,” Brown said. “They are humbled by the gifts from the community. They are able to create memories in a way that is without the stress of straining their budget.”