For the past seven years, Operation Homefront has provided support for military families in need, but their Fort Hood efforts are getting ready to expand in a big way.
Tracy Curran, a military spouse, was hired about three months ago as a Fort Hood area community liaison to spread the word and coordinate local resources.
“Our mission is just so important. To serve soldiers is so important,” Curran said.
The San Antonio-based national nonprofit provides grants, food and morale events for soldiers ranked staff sergeant and below on active duty, in the Reserves or National Guard, and their families, as well as wounded warriors and their families.
“It’s not a loan,” Curran said of the emergency monetary help provided through Operation Homefront for rent, bills or any other needs that can arise. “Anything we give, you do not pay back.”
Many times, she said recipients of support will “pay it back” by volunteering to help others once they get back on their feet.
San Antonio representatives were driving to Central Texas to provide assistance and host about three morale events each year, but Curran said they realized there was more need than could be provided long distance.
“I’m hoping to get the word out,” she said. “So many people don’t understand what we do. ... The focus is always emergency assistance. That’s what we were founded on.”
Since 2002, Operation Homefront has helped more than 600,000 military families with more than $170 million in support, Curran said.
Since joining the team, she has hit the ground running, meeting with commanders, community leaders, possible donors and military spouse groups to let people know she is here and what Operation Homefront has to offer.
Registration has already closed for their holiday events, but Curran is still recruiting volunteers for their Jolly Holly toy distribution, Meals for the Military, which is providing 475 families with Christmas meals, and the Adopt-A-Family program where volunteers can adopt a military family and provide them with a holiday dinner and Christmas gifts for the children.
The Jolly Holly is estimated to help 5,100 military children in Texas, Curran said. Each family selected to participate will receive one “high-value” toy and several stocking stuffers during a selected day in December. A toy drive to support the event is under way with five drop-off locations in Killeen.
Outside of the holiday season, Curran said the nonprofit also hosts a spring event, a baby shower, wounded warrior retreats and a backpack giveaway.
Emilia Ramos, of Killeen, volunteered at the baby shower Operation Homefront held last month in Killeen, because she said as a military spouse and mother of two, she knows the impact the organization can have on families. Each of the 50 mothers in attendance received hundreds of dollars in baby supplies including a car seat, baby bathtub, diapers, wipes, bibs, clothes and blankets.
“It would have meant a lot,” she said of receiving so many gifts. “I had my youngest son in Korea and it would have meant a lot, so that’s why I wanted to give back.”