American and German families are making extra room at their tables for some special guests this Christmas.

The Heidelberg military community is one of several communities where American families will host German Bundeswehr soldiers this holiday. Many of the soldiers guard gates at area installations and housing areas.

Jerrika Weston and her husband, Staff Sgt. Brent Weston, will open their doors this year to two German soldiers.

“They’re away from home already,” Weston said. “When you’re in the military, you’re never going to have [all of] your family. My thing is — family is wherever you go. The least we could do is just make them feel welcome.”

On the other side of the coin, German families associated with the Bamberg German American Men’s Club will share Christmas with U.S. soldiers.

Organized in conjunction with the Bamberg public affairs office, the club hopes to foster new friendships and give Americans a taste of a German Christmas.

“It’s open to everybody,” said Helmut Funke, secretary of the Bamberg German American Men’s Club, who added that many of the German families involved have at least one family member who speaks English.

The American soldiers will meet their German families Dec. 20 at a club meeting to coordinate their visit. So far, the club has 15 German families signed up that have agreed to host one or two American soldiers.

“[Some of these soldiers] are young and this is perhaps the first time they are away from their families,” Funke said. “It’s a good thing to help them.”

For more information on the Heidelberg German soldier program, call DSN 373-1400 or civilian 06221-17-1400. Bamberg soldiers wishing to spend Christmas with a German family can call Funke at 09505-80-199 or the Bamberg public affairs office at DSN 469-1600 or civilian 0951-300-1600.

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