FORT KNOX, KY (WAVE) - Some soldiers undergoing basic training at Fort Knox got a jump start on their Christmas shopping. WAVE 3's Caton Bredar reports it was possible thanks to the base PX, some volunteers and the Fort Knox postal service.
"We came in here, and your eyes open up and you're like wow," said PFC John Alred. "I spent about 300 bucks, bought presents for my family."
"We're on our second bicycle back there to try and figure out how to get in a box, and one young man was sending a seven and a half foot fishing rod to his brother. That was a challenge not only to wrap, but how they would get it in," said Command Sgt. Ricky Young of the 194th Armored Brigade.
The solider with the fishing rod is Justin Melton of the South Carolina National Guard. He told WAVE 3, "I still got to get my sister's gifts, but I got my mom's, my dad's, my brother-in-laws."
With the PX providing the merchandise, and postal service elves dressed in red are doing the wrapping, thousands of soldiers are getting time out from basic training to do their holiday shopping at the coolest place this side of the North Pole.
"We wrap gift wrap, we package, we ship it home for them," said Fort Knox postmaster Larry Figg.
"I been here going on my 15th week now, and I haven't seen my family the whole time I've been here, so I'm glad about this, and I'm glad I get to home for a couple days," said Melton.
Figg said, "(It's) kind of a joint operation to bring these soldiers out of basic training. You know, they're going home here starting the 18th of December and they won't have a chance to shop for Christmas or whatever. This gives them a perfect opportunity to do all their Christmas shopping."
Saturday, nearly 600 got the change to shop for the Christmas gifts. About 1,200 more will do the same on Sunday. Before it's all over, almost 2,500 soldiers will have the opportunity to get their shopping done.
The young men and women in basic training at the post are still a long way from home. For some, it was a day of firsts.
"For many of these kids, this is the first time they've had a paycheck. This is the first time they've bought their own Christmas gifts. So they're pretty happy about it and they're buying stuff that they probably wouldn't be getting usually," said Young.
For the PX, postal service workers and volunteers, it's the best way to celebrate the season.