Holiday cheer and good tidings filled the air as Santa’s Workshop Fort Hood officially opened for the Christmas season Thursday night.
After the annual ribbon-cutting, guests toured the toy-filled workshop while the 1st Cavalry Division Band’s jazz combo played Christmas favorites.
“This is a wonderful program,” said retired Gen. Robert Shoemaker, who attended the event with his wife. “I’m out here just to let people know that somebody knows they’re out there doing this and I really appreciate them.”
Santa’s Workshop is a nonprofit that provides toys to military families in need at Christmas. Instead of just provided pre-selected gifts to children, parents get to “shop” for toys for their children in the workshop, and bring home at least three free gifts for each eligible child.
Helping 1,800 families
Families must apply for support from the workshop. There was a 20 percent increase in applications this year, said Lisa West, board president.
“I’m not sure if we were better at getting the word out or the circumstances,” she said.
Thanks to strong support from the community, West said, the board accepted 1,800 families this year — 100 more than last year.
During the grand opening, Ron Taylor, senior vice president of Fort Hood National Bank, presented West with a $2,000 check, double the amount donated in years past.
“It’s our honor to support the soldiers and families,” Taylor said. “They reach out and help a lot of soldiers’ kids who would have gone without toys.”
Santa’s Workshop was also able to expand this year. In the past, the nonprofit shared its space next door to the Clear Creek Commissary with the Fort Hood Tax Center, which recently moved out.
Brig. Gen. Clark LeMasters, commander of the 13th Sustainment Command, thanked everyone for attending the opening. Santa’s Workshop began in the sustainment command and in 1998 expanded to accommodate all of Fort Hood.
“It’s really, really important what you guys do and have done for everybody,” he said. “I’m proud the 13th (Sustainment) is part of that history.”
For more information on Santa’s Workshop Fort Hood, find them on Facebook.