By LISA M. HOFFMANN
IRON MOUNTAIN - Share Your Christmas, a program that started 68 years ago to assist local families, will make a transition this year.
Theresa Peterson/Daily News Photo
Chuck Lantz of the Office of Veterans Affairs and Denise Formolo from the Community Corrections Agency display some of the gifts that will be given to military families in need this year.
Chuck Lantz, director of the Dickinson County Office of Veterans Affairs (OVA) and coordinator of Share Your Christmas, said the transition this year will be from helping the whole community to helping veterans' families of the 1432nd.
The 1432nd Engineering Co. is based in Kingsford and Iron River.
The unit, along with the 1433rd Engineering Co. is from Kalamazoo, was deployed to Afghanistan in May. The two units combined as one and are assisting the U.S. Army with Route Clearance Operations in Afghanistan.
The tour of duty was expected to last one year.
In past years, the office directed this program to all income-eligible residents of Dickinson County.
"This year, the OVA will change direction to serve the Dickinson County veteran community," Lantz said. "So we will provide assistance to the veteran families of the 1432nd Engineer Co. National Guard, who are currently deployed to Afghanistan."
"Our veterans have fought for our freedom, and to keep our country safe, so the least we can do is give back to our community's heroes and their families," he said.
The OVA will also work with Denise Formolo, coordinator of the Community Corrections Agency.
Together, the two offices will coordinate a Christmas party on Dec. 1 for the families of this unit.
This will provide them with a Christmas party and brunch with gifts for the children.
Lantz said 180 families were served by the program last year.
"This year will be less, however, as a veterans service office and with the 1432nd National Guard Unit deployed, their families are the only people we are serving this year," he said.
A food basket and new toys will be given to each veteran's family.
"It has been successful for all these years because of the many good people like you, individuals, government agencies, businesses, industry, churches, clubs, and organizations who helped with donations," said Lantz.
Financial assistance toward the worthwhile project is being sought.
To contribute, make a check payable to: Share Your Christmas, and mail it to Office of Veterans Affairs, 800 Crystal Lake Boulevard, Iron Mountain, MI 49801.
Call 774-2820 with any questions.
"I know the many recipients of this program will be very appreciative and grateful to receive help during the holidays," Lantz said. "May you have a joyful Christmas and a Happy New Year."
Lisa M. Hoffmann's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.