As the holiday season approaches once again, the Temple Chamber of Commerce ensured the families of deployed soldiers from Fort Hood knew they, too, were appreciated this year, by hosting their first Operation Winter Wonderland on Dec. 8.

Spouses and siblings of deployed “Wrangler” soldiers from the 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command, were invited out to the American Legion Post 133 in Temple to enjoy a story time, a visit from Santa Claus, and some festive arts and crafts for the children.

“I owe this event to my wife. She said, ‘Why don’t we do something for the families that are impacted by deployment?’” said Rod Henry, president of the Temple chamber.

Henry worked closely with other chamber members and Fort Hood leaders to make the event a success.

“We work with the family readiness people at the 13th (Sustainment), 1st Medical Brigade and the Texas National Guard, and this thing just kept growing and germinating,” Henry said. “We had a tremendous amount of support from other members (of the chamber) with donations.”

A total of 50 military families from the Temple area signed up for the event, but the drop in temperatures and risk of severe weather had an impact on the final numbers. But the spirits of the organizers and attendees were not dampened.

“It doesn’t matter how many kids show up. If there is one child here and that child smiles, then it is all worth it,” Henry said.

Children made various crafts with the help of volunteers. The children were also read Christmas stories by Henry and Brig. Gen. Clark LeMasters Jr., commander of the 13th, before the arrival of Santa.

Danielle Brent, spouse of deployed Spc. David Brent, was grateful she could bring their three children to the event.

“It means a lot for the children to know that they are being supported by people and it helps give mom a little break and makes the holidays a little easier with not having daddy around,” Brent said.

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