Some service member’s children will get to enjoy the Christmas holiday thanks to gift donations by soldiers from the 36th Engineer Brigade on Nov. 21.

Soldiers conducted a ruck march and carried gifts from Hood Stadium to Santa’s Workshop, near the Clear Creek commissary, to ensure less fortunate service members’ children enjoy the holiday season. Soldiers delivered books, board games and a common boys or girls gifts.

Santa’s Workshop president Emily Damboise said the brigade donated 825 gifts valued at more than $5,000.

We are so grateful for the support from the 36th Engineer Brigade,” Damboise said. “We know that the toys we received today will help us with our mission of bringing the magic of Christmas back home to military families.”

Damboise said the non-profit organization holds fundraisers and gift donation events throughout the year for children in need.

“We provide toys for about 3,000 kids every year,” Damboise said. “We do five fundraisers a year as well as working with the units that do ruck marches and toy drives.”

Damboise said last year the organization helped 1,660 families and gave away approximately $42 per child.

“They each receive a stocking stuffer, a red toy and a blue toy, a book and a board game for the family,” Damboise said.

Damboise said the organization works with the unit’s command financial specialists to help identify the soldiers and families in need the most to distribute the gifts.

Col. James Koeppen, the engineer brigade commander, said he loved many things about the Fort Hood Santa’s Workshop, but that it was about the soldiers making Christmas special for a lot of Fort Hood children.

“At the end of the day, it really comes down to the fact that our soldiers’ efforts are going to make Christmas morning very special for a lot of children in the Fort Hood (and) Killeen community,” Koeppen said.“I could not be prouder of our soldiers’ generosity and willingness to support such a worthy cause.”

Koeppen said the event was for a great cause, especially for the local community.

“It is taking care of our own and our own community,” Koeppen said. “I could not think of a better way to kick off the holiday season than to be out here this morning with my soldiers and their families supporting such a great cause.”

Maj. Joseph Patterson, the engineer brigade surgeon, participated in the ruck march and delivered gifts to the workshop.

“This program is set up to support less-fortunate families and provide children with a Merry Christmas,” Patterson said.

Patterson said getting toys for kids who otherwise wouldn’t have any is a great way to bring the Army family together.

“Hopefully we can brighten some kids’ Christmas,” Patterson said.

Other events planned soon by Santa’s Workshop are a Golf Scramble, Pig n’ Pint, Thanksgiving Throwdown and Breakfast with Santa.

For more information on these events go to

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