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Finding Jingle Bell Rock brightens Christmas for Fort Carson soldier

By: Tony Peck Special to The Gazette
December 17, 2017 Updated: December 17, 2017 at 8:40 am
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This rock will be hidden on Fort Carson. The soldier who finds it will earn a treasure trove of Christmas gifts from the USO. (TONY PECK / SPECIAL TO THE GAZETTE)

One Fort Carson soldier will get a rock for Christmas.

No, they aren't on the naughty list. It's not a lump of coal.

It is the United Service Organizations' Jingle Bell Rock, and finding it comes with thousands of dollars in prizes and gifts.

"It is really so much fun, it engages everyone," explained Phil Martinez, the USO director for the Colorado Springs region.

Martinez started the event at Fort Carson eight years ago with a simple idea.

In the weeks leading up to the event, the rock would be painted and displayed in the USO on the post for everyone to see.

The USO office is a gathering place where soldiers can relax and grab a bite to eat. Then one night in December, the rock would disappear, to be replaced by a set of clues.

And then every day, Martinez would release clues to the community on social media and the USO website until the rock is found.

Every year, more than a dozen sponsors donate prizes for the lucky rock recipient. Items on this year's list include a laptop, a $1,000 King Soopers shopping spree and, most coveted of all, a year's worth of Chick-Fil-A.

"And the list keeps getting bigger," Martinez said.

Sponsors are eager to give a Christmas lift to troops. And their gifts are much appreciated, Martinez said.

"Some families are just starting out, they don't have a nest egg yet," said Stacy Newvine, a USO volunteer and mother of two who recently arrived on post.

She scanned the list of prizes before pointing at the King Soopers shopping spree. "Whoever gets it, I mean, that's groceries," she said. "They are set up for the whole year."

Newvine said it can be difficult for families on post to make ends meet during the holidays. Finding the Jingle Bell Rock is a way to ease some of that pressure.

"It is going to be very comforting for whoever wins," she said.

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