FORT CAMPBELL, KY. — When it comes to soldier and family support on Fort Campbell, the Armed Services YMCA may not come immediately to mind, but it should.
There are few organizations dedicated to helping the troops that do so much in such a variety of ways, year-round. However, at Christmas, they go above and beyond to ensure lower-ranking enlisted soldiers and their families have a happy holiday.
At their Reed Avenue location, just past the shopette at Reed and Bastogne Avenues, the YMCA building has been filled to overflowing – literally – with high-quality books, games and toys, to include a large selection of bicycles. All of it is destined for 400 military children of families identified by Fort Campbell units as perhaps needing a little help this year.
Much of what is on hand was donated through the generosity of Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville, where the families of students gave generously to make this year’s Christmas Assistance program, which runs until Dec. 21, one of the best ever, according to ASYMCA director Shirley West.
“Our mission is to support the soldiers,” said West, “and what better time than Christmas-time?”
Help from friends
West also credited a few other “angels” who contribute greatly to her mission to enhance the lives of Fort Campbell military families.
“The 101st Airborne Association is a huge supporter of ours,” she said. “If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be able to keep our doors open.
“They help us out with our summer camps and also fund a lot of our programs throughout the year. We also get United Way funds, which helps greatly since we’re not government-supported except for the fact that they give us our building to operate in.”
The ASYMCA also has the generous support of volunteers – mostly soldiers and spouses – who donate time to help West and her staff run the youth summer camps and the many programs at the main building, as well as at the Backdoor Boutique.
Eight volunteers spent an entire day helping to unload the two truckloads of Christmas donations from Christ Presbyterian Academy, and volunteers from the Officer and Enlisted Spouses Clubs helped to set everything up.
“If it wasn’t for the volunteers,” said West, “we couldn’t do this.”
Enhancing military life
Beyond the summer camps and Christmas Assistance, the ASYMCA has play groups for children every day, a Bible study once a week, dinners and breakfasts once a month, an after-school mentoring program for all six of Fort Campbell’s elementary schools and a part-day daycare for children of enlisted soldiers.
“Also,” said West, “we try to help out people who have financial needs that can’t get help from Army Emergency Relief.”
Then there’s ASYMCA’s Backdoor Boutique, where soldiers in the ranks of E-5 and below can come once a week to shop for canned and boxed food items and baby supplies.
“They get to take anything that we have in the store,” said West, “and they get a carry-out item and a big bag once a week to take home to their family.
“We also have a room in the same facility where we loan out gowns and suits for formal occasions. All we ask is that they dry-clean the items before returning them.”
The ASYMCA also buys a gift for each and every baby born at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital, which averages 200 births per month.
For a complete listing of all programs and services, visit the Armed Services YMCA of Fort Campbell Facebook page.
To donate or to volunteer, contact the ASYMCA by writing to P.O. Box 629, Fort Campbell, Ky., 42223 or call Shirley West at 270-798-3077.