Fort Hood Army Wives Expo

Diane Perkins speaks with representatives from the American Red Cross during the Fort Hood Army Wives Expo Sept. 22, 2012, at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center. The next expo is Saturday.

Anita Hernandez, president of the Fort Hood Army Wives Club, got the idea of holding an annual expo when she realized the difficulties soldiers’ spouses have promoting their small businesses when they move to a new location.

“The organization was founded in order to encourage and support military spouses,” Hernandez said. Since spouses often move because of their soldier’s permanent change of station, a majority of their clientele is lost.

So in March 2011, Hernandez hosted the first Army Wives Expo, and has continued since to host two a year.

About 120 vendors featuring an array of decorations and handmade products will be at this year’s spring expo from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.

About 95 percent of the vendors at the free event are military spouses. The remaining vendors are businesses or independent contractors, Hernandez said. The expo allows spouses to showcase their products from their home-based business at a more affordable price than other area expos.

Nearly 2,000 people attended the event in September and Hernandez expects a larger crowd this weekend.

“It keeps growing,” she said. “It’s a great way to support military spouses and veterans in the area, help them generate income and build local communities.”

Door prizes and fitness demonstrations, as well as health assessments and tips based on weight and other measurements from Curves in Copperas Cove, are scheduled throughout the day.

Hernandez also uses the event to give back to the local community.

Donations collected at the spring expo will benefit the nonprofit Operation Once in a Lifetime, which provides free financial and morale support to service members and their families and runs the Sgt. Leevon Ritter Support Your Troops Resale Center in downtown Killeen.

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