The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is a premiere engineering organization that performs a host of critical services and manages projects from maintaining dams, operating locks, dredging waterways, to restoring ecosystems. However, at this time of year, the USACE Buffalo District is focused on a different type of project—spreading joy in the community.
A USACE budget officer might be frugal and tightfisted when it comes to saving the taxpayer money by ensuring program funds are used properly, but when it comes to joining in the holiday spirit, Budget Officer Greg Chapman is no Scrooge. Chapman challenged the Buffalo District staff to donate gifts to the Marines’ Toys for Tots foundation and agreed to match the donations up to a total of $300. His challenge was met with great enthusiasm and the Buffalo District met his challenge in just a few short days.
“All you need to do is read or experience once about how someone facing financial hardship wasn’t able to have gifts for Christmas, and realize there is more you could be doing to help,” said Chapman. “I thought the matching toy drive would be a fun motivator for the district and a way we could double the donations. Everyone here really rallied, and made something incredible happen!”
Chapman hopes his challenge will become a tradition at the district.
The Buffalo District has a history of thinking of others during the holiday season. Each year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Office and the Employee Recreation Association sponsor a Giving Tree collection. The tree is prominently displayed in the front foyer of the Buffalo District Headquarters in the Black Rock area of Buffalo, donned with donations of hats, gloves and scarves. The items will be sent to a local elementary school, which will distribute them to students in need.
Not far from the Giving Tree is a donation box full of toiletries, blankets and cleaning products, etc., for homeless veterans who are waiting to move into housing. The Buffalo team is even reaching out to families in need with pets by collecting pet food for their four-legged family members.
In yet another example of showing compassion for others, Buffalo District senior leaders, including Commander Lt. Col. Adam Czekanski, visited residents at the Veterans Affairs Adult Day Health Care center on Dec. 20 and passed out holiday cards created by local schoolchildren. The facility residents were thrilled to have the guests and were delighted to receive the cards.
“This is a great example of how well our military services work together in Western New York,” said Lt. Col. Adam Czekanski, USACE Buffalo District Commander. “It is humbling to spend time with our Veterans and learn about their experiences. I am honored to have the opportunity to remind our Veterans that we appreciate their service, and that their sacrifices for our nation are not forgotten.”
The spirit of holiday giving didn’t start in December. Noel Gilheany in the Finance and Accounting Branch bought the cleaning staff lunch for Thanksgiving. People give in different ways but what’s common to the USACE Buffalo District staff is the spirit of giving. That spirit of community models the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division motto of “Building Strong and Taking Care of People”. This season, the emphasis is on taking care of people.