Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center employees once again played Santa to benefit families in Battle Creek, Michigan, area in December through the Salvation Army’s Adopt-a-Family program.

The federal center’s participation is coordinated annually by the Morale, Welfare and Recreation staff of Defense Logistics Agency Installation Support and local Salvation Army representatives.

Families and individuals listed by the Salvation Army receive Christmas gifts and holiday food items.

"I did not know how we would do this year with so many of us working from home,” said Tiffany Schmidt, the chief MWR and volunteer coordinator. “It was a challenge, but the employees of the federal center really came through. So many stepped up to ensure that our neighbors will have a Merry Christmas."

For many at HDI, Adopt-A-Family is a holiday tradition.

After more than 25 years of participating in the program, Connie Ehredt of DLA Information Operations said this would be her last time participating as a federal employee; by next Christmas, she will be retired but plans to continue participating with her family.

“My family has been involved throughout all of it,” Ehredt said. “They have worked down here when I did the sorting inside and outside, my daughter helps with the shopping, they have all helped with the unloading, wrapping, and boxing, so it’s been a big family tradition for me.”

U.S. Army Col. Fran Taylor moved to Battle Creek this year and serves as the deputy director for DLA Disposition Services. When she heard of the program, she said she knew it was something she would want to be a part of.

“This is a long tradition at the federal center; and we like to give back to those who are in need,” Taylor said. “We appreciate the opportunity to provide [recipients] with the things [they] need for this holiday season.”

Photo by Jeff Landenberger

Salvation Army Maj. Kevin Van Zee, commander of the Battle Creek location, said the pandemic made this year a challenge, but the organization remained open as an essential service.

“We were thrilled this year when the federal center was still able to jump in and help with Christmas,” Van Zee said adding that while this is his fourth year in Battle Creek, the Salvation Army has served the community for more than 130 years.

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