USAG Ansbach dental clinics bring smiles to children off post
The spirit of giving is not limited to late December. Members of the Katterbach and Illesheim dental clinics visited the Kinder-Jugend-Familienhilfe Ansbach Kastanienhof, a home for children of troubled families, Jan. 31 to donate toys collected during the holiday season.
Lt. Col. Alex Eke, commander of the Katterbach Dental Clinic, and Marianne Teubner, Eke's office assistant, pack boxes full of toys to be delivered to Kinder-Jugend-Familienhilfe Ansbach Kastanienhof, a home for children of troubled families, Jan. 31.
1 photo: Lt. Col. Alex Eke and Marianne Teubner pack boxes full of toys to be delivered to Kinder-Jugend-Familienhilfe Ansbach Kastanienhof
Photo 1 of 1: Lt. Col. Alex Eke, commander of the Katterbach Dental Clinic, and Marianne Teubner, Eke's office assistant, pack boxes full of toys to be delivered to Kinder-Jugend-Familienhilfe Ansbach Kastanienhof, a home for children of troubled families, Jan. 31. Download full-resolution version

ANSBACH, Germany -- The spirit of giving is not limited to late December. Members of the Katterbach and Illesheim dental clinics visited the Kinder-Jugend-Familienhilfe Ansbach Kastanienhof, a home for children of troubled families, Jan. 31 to donate toys collected during the holiday season.

The Kastanienhof provides a stay-in residence for children 12 to 18 years old and a daycare for younger children with the goal of providing a stable, nurturing environment for children from difficult home lives.

"The state pays for staying here, for eating here, and for people caring, but for everything else, we really depend on donations," said Sabine Baumgarten, the master of social management of Kastanienhof, "so we are really happy we have here all this wonderful stuff. We have a lot of room to use it."

"It's always good to [support] the community you live in," said Lt. Col. Alex Eke, the commander of Katterbach Dental Clinic. "We also want to bring to the forefront the needs of this particular disadvantaged youth home. It's in our collective interest to help as well as be helped. That is why we do it."

"They are very happy we are doing something for them," said Marianne Teubner, Eke's office assistant. "A lot of places would rather take money, but they are saying they have a lot of needy people and children that they are happy to distribute these presents that we have collected to."

The staff of the two dental clinics perform other voluntary work, including tutoring at the garrison schools and coaching extracurricular sports.

"I am very grateful to the men and women of Katterbach Dental Clinic Command," said Eke, "for their efforts in this respect and other volunteer work they do -- tutoring in the Elementary School and volunteering for community service whenever we can. And this is part of it."

"We really appreciate it," said Baumgarten. "Our kids love to run around to play, and play together football and soccer and everything else. We really thank everyone who participated in this donation."
According to Eke, mobilizing his staff into spirit of giving was without difficulty.

"The effort was really effortless," said Eke. "It was from the goodness of the men and women of Katterbach Dental Clinic Command that we decided to do something."

The 35 individuals that comprise Katterbach and Illesheim dental clinics were able to provide several boxes of toys, games and sports equipment, which were expressly first-hand, to the Kastanienhof.

"Everybody was really willing to participate and to buy gifts," said Teubner. "We said we didn't want anything old or used or anything you could not use. We wanted something nice. And people did go out of their ways, and they went to other communities if they couldn't find anything here locally to go shopping."

Sgt. Daniel Medrano, assistant noncommissioned officer in charge, was pleased with the level of participation the effort received from lower enlisted Soldiers.

"It's great to see them be able to participate in a program like this," said Medrano. "For them to be able to take time and think about others, especially with such low-ranking Soldiers -- they don't get paid as much -- they still take the time and effort and still spend the money to help donate and purchase gifts for these kids. I think it's a great idea, and it's agood example for them, so when they're future leaders, they can also instill these good qualities in their Soldiers."

The response from the Soldiers and staff of the clinics pleased Teubner.

"They did it without having to remind them or anything," she said. "I was surprised how many gifts piled up here."

Several of the enlisted Soldiers who participated in the toy collection were also able to visit the home Jan. 31.

"They have pretty good facilities and you can tell [the children] are pretty well taken care of," said Spc. Nick Williams.

"I came from a place like this, so it was pretty nice to come back and see the kids and see how they are living," said Pfc. Dominique Owens.

Eke believes that there is plenty that USAG Ansbach groups can do for the Stadt Ansbach community including continuing to help the Kastanienhof.

"We are still accepting donations," said Eke. "I would like to have it bigger this year.

"This is a very small token on our end," he continued. "We want to attract a greater visibility, not just for this disadvantaged children's home, but to all the charitable events that are happening in the Ansbach community."

For some of the Soldiers, it was more about the individual act than anything larger.

"It was around Christmas time, and we had our hearts [set] on giving," said Owens.

"You just take a chance to do something good and don't worry about the credit for it," said Williams. "We would have been fine dropping them off and leaving as long as some kids got to play with some toys they didn't have before."

"We're all dental, so we help people all the time, everyday," said Pfc. Zac Cornish. "We weren't looking for anything in return, just the smiles on their faces was enough and letting them know that we're here [and] we care."

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