Although we haven’t hit Halloween yet, Christmas is right around the corner and there are organizations on post who have already begun gearing up to help our military families.

There are many great organizations on Fort Hood who give back to our military families: There is the scholarship fund and the childcare fund. There is the spouses’ club that does so much for our community.

This week, I wanted to highlight Santa’s Workshop. Last Christmas, I volunteered to be an elf for Santa’s Workshop. You may be wondering what being an “elf” entails. Well, I got to help military families shop for their kiddos during a time of need and a time of celebration. The mission of the organization is to “make new toys accessible for children of the Fort Hood military community during the holiday season.”

Personally, it had an emotional impact on me. It filled my heart to watch families needing a little extra help due to a variety of circumstances come through the workshop to choose toys for their kids. It also filled my heart to think of this amazing community I am a part of that gives back. A community that sees a need and does everything to fill that need. It’s overwhelming when you think about it. And for that, I am grateful.

The history of the organization dates back to before 1998. Santa’s Workshop started out as a unit initiative, but in 1998 it grew to an installation-wide effort. Our soldiers and their families can face unique financial stress and the goal of Santa’s Workshop is to make sure those military kiddos don’t feel that stress.

Last year, Santa’s Workshop helped 1,400 Fort Hood families and more than 3,300 of our military children.

There are many great organizations that help military families during the holidays, but Santa’s Workshop is a little different. It gives parents the opportunity to come into the workshop and shop the stocked shelves. This organization gives parents the luxury of a personal touch at the holidays while navigating a difficult time, and put a little bit of “magic” back into the holidays.

Each child receives two brand-new toys, a stocking stuffer and one book, and each family also receives a game to encourage family time and togetherness.

The application process for Santa’s Workshop is simple, but there are some requirements to apply. Applicants must be active-duty military stationed here at Fort Hood. This includes active National Guard and Reserve members. Dependent children must be between the ages of six months and 12 years by Christmas Day.

Applications can be downloaded from the website and the servicemembers work with directly with their Command Financial Specialists to get them turned in. The applications must come from the unit CFS, and they have all received the information necessary to help military families apply. The CFS deadline is coming up soon, so if you are looking to apply, please download the application and have your servicemember connect with their CFS.

On Oct. 21, Fort Hood Santa’s Workshop is hosting a fundraiser called Pig & Pint. It is the first year for this fundraiser. It will be held at the Farris Wheel and tickets are on sale now. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online.

For more information on the application process or to purchase tickets for the upcoming Pig & Pint fundraiser, please visit www.forthoodsantasworkshop.com.

To all that have helped in the past and continue to do so, thank you. The impact this organization has on military families is something special.

Reena O’Brien is an Army spouse and Herald correspondent. She lives on Fort Hood.

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