In 2006, Celebration of Love gave out Thanksgiving baskets for Fort Hood families at Hood Stadium. In 2007, the foundations founder, Tom Ramsey, added bikes. From then on, Celebration of Love made their holiday effort an annual event on Fort Hood.
Months of planning goes into Christmas For The Troops, but Ramsey felt that the bike drive fell short every year. Even though the nonprofit gave out 357 bikes last year, some children still left without bikes.
“It breaks my heart how I cannot provide enough bikes for these children. This is long lasting. It’s more than just the meal of the day,” said Ramsey.
Multiple organization in the Fort Hood area provide holiday baskets for Fort Hood families. After calculating the money spent on Thanksgiving baskets, Ramsey and Fort Hood Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Antonio Leja Jr. decided to remove the food drive and shift those funds to the bike drive.
Greater Round Rock Community Foundation, Jordan Spieth Family Foundation and Thanks to the Troops met and exceeded the estimated cost of 1,2000 bicycles.
“If another child comes, we are still going to bless them. We always come with surplus,” Ramsey said.
“We get tons and tons of emails overseas asking about the program. This is why we go and do the little that we can do to go come back and answer the call as they are for us. This is nothing in comparison to what that soldier and their family are sacrificing for us and the community. for our safety,” he said.
Monday morning, volunteers went to Old Warrior Post Exchange to assemble bikes. They started putting bikes together at 10 a.m. Once a bike cleared the quality control station, volunteers pushed or rode them to the entrance.
“We are going to have greeters outside. At that point, we are going to have measuring. So, we are going to able to size the child with the size of the bike. The families will be able to go directly to the proper size according to the chart,” Ramsey said.
Other volunteers helped decorate the location and promote the event on social media.
“I’m already working on 2019. I am done on the organizational level. We’ve been here since last week setting up the area,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey is thinking about, “What are we doing next year. It’s not just going to stay like this. It has to go up. How do I get the message out to come be a part of something great in ‘The Great Place?’”
Next year, Las Fenix, a music group based in Houston, hopes to sing select Christmas songs at the celebration. In the meantime, the group will continue to promote Celebration of Love drives with social media and set up the annual holiday event.
“TV and radio are still big, even newspaper and magazines, but everyone is constantly on social media. Everyone is constantly on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Many of our (Las Fenix) followers have found us on social media,” said Nadia Rodriguez, member of Las Fenix.
“We have a good following throughout Facebook and Instagram. We tried to get out followers to cooperate and do something for the community,” Rodriguez said.
Individuals interested in participating in the 2019 Christmas For The Troops can email email@example.com or call 512-251-4800.