Fort Belvoir Army Community Services is offering qualifying E-5 Servicemembers AFEES and Commissary cards for the holidays. Read more to learn how to apply. 

Families E-5 and below can still apply for Operation Sugarplum Holiday assistance

Junior enlisted service members could get a family financial boost this holiday season, but that window is closing. Fort Belvoir’s Army Community Services is hosting Operation Sugarplum, which allows E-5 service members who are stationed at Fort Belvoir to receive AFEES and Commissary cards for gifts and food this holiday season, according to Tammye Braddy, ACS director.

“E-5 and below with at least one child in the home can secure a signature from their command and fill out a request to take at least one financial class, facilitated by ACS,” Braddy said. “We want to educate you, and at the end of the day, we want you to be self-sufficient, and then have you be able to handle the holidays next season.”

There are several classes to choose from: Budgeting for the Holidays; Savings and Investing; Spend Plan Development; and Take Control and Eliminate Debt.

That was an intriguing idea for PVT William Poorbaugh, stationed with the 911th Technical Rescue Engineer Company.

“I really want to learn how to budget for the holidays, because that’s always so expensive,” Poorbaugh said. “The military is a good job, but it’s a struggle sometimes,” adding that the cost of living in Northern Virginia is considerably higher than his hometown of Hazard, Kentucky.

“My platoon sergeant told me about Operation Sugarplum, and this is perfect, because I have an eight-year-old daughter, so I’m here to apply,” he said, adding that he joined the Army to give his daughter educational opportunities he never had growing up, “so she could set herself up for success in the future.”

Tammye Braddy, director, Fort Belvoir Army Community Services

Braddy said last year, families with one child received about 75 dollars in gift cards to help make the holidays a bit easier to navigate.

Braddy is proud of the fact that the classes seem to make a difference, based on the feedback from prior attendees.

“We have more and more Soldiers leave those classes and return to tell me ‘that was some great information. Now I know how to develop a budget every month.’”

After attending class, they get to return and pick up the gift cards December 12, which is the real treat for Braddy’s team.

“When they come in to pick up their gifts, that's probably the most important time for our staff, when we see service members, almost in tears, saying, ‘Thank you, I really needed this. What a tremendous help.’” She said. “It reminds us that those moments are all for them.”

It’s not too late - ACS is accepting applications until Dec. 12. To participate in Operation Sugarplum, call ACS at (571) 231-7001 or stop by Army Community Services for a form at 5965 6th Street, Fort Belvoir.

Paul Lara, Public Affairs