By Rose L. Thayer

Fort Hood Herald

FLORENCE - Supporters of Santa's Workshop traveled to the Vineyard at Florence Thursday night for "A Silent Night Out," filled with music, food and, of course, wine.

"It's a good match - wine and a good cause," said attendee Mary Novalis. "I never knew this place existed until I got the flyer. It's elegant."

This is the first year in many Santa's Workshop added a new fundraiser to its calendar. It went over so well, volunteers have already scheduled next year's, said Dana Doherty, fundraising coordinator for the nonprofit.

"Silent Night Out," including its silent auction, collected $3,000 for Santa's Workshop. It will spend about $40,000 on toys this year, according to information from the organization.

Santa's Workshop, located next to the post's Main Exchange during the holiday season, provides toys for families who may not be able to afford them otherwise. Different from other charities, parents can select or "shop for" the toys and other treats they'll give their children.

"The most impressive part is how much the community stepped up to donate to Santa's Workshop," said Doherty of Thursday's event.

The venue, food, entertainment, decorations and auction items were all donated, allowing 80 percent of the ticket price to go toward buying toys for military children.

"People understand and this was a stellar performance by the community," said Doherty.

Lt. Col. Jason Smallfield, 36th Engineer Brigade, brought his wife, Pam Smallfield, out to the event for some quality time together.

"I love Santa's Workshop. It's a great cause," said Pam Smallfield. "We take for granted how we can get things for our kids... Even in the Army, that paycheck has to go a long way."

Applications have increased in number during the last few years, said Carolyn Crissman, president, so the need to raise funds is greater than ever.

"We are really expecting about 2,500 applications," she said. "We had about 2,000 last year."

She said events such as this not only raise money, but also get the organization's name out in the public.

"It reminds people about getting involved and getting stuff in," said Crissman. "The closer we get to Christmas, the more excited people are to help with Santa's Workshop."

Contact Rose L. Thayer at or (254) 501-7463. Follow

her on Twitter at KDHreporter.

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