FORT HOOD — Fort Hood’s Santa’s Workshop officially opened for the Christmas season following a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday at the workshop adjacent to the Clear Creek Commissary.
The workshop is a nonprofit organization that works throughout the year collecting toys and hosting events to raise funds and purchase toys, books and board games for Fort Hood families experiencing financial hardships.
Santa’s Workshop President Emily Damboise said the ceremony notifies eligible parents the workshop is about to open for families to shop and select toys for their children based on gender and price.
“That’s what’s unique about our organization that they (parents) get to come in and personally shop for their child,” Damboise said. “We have name brand toys on our shelves and a lot of our toys parents may not be able to afford so now they get to take it home and have it under the tree on Christmas morning.”
Damboise said the workshop averages $42 in toys per child during the holiday season and delivered toys to 3,334 children in need last year.
“Each child receives a stocking stuffer, two toys based on price, one that is valued $15 or below and one valued at $15 and above, as well as a book and each family receives a board game,” Damboise said. “We give away between 8,000 to 10,000 toys a year and help out almost 1,600 families.”
Brig. Gen. Douglas McBride, commander of Fort Hood’s 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, also participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The sustainment command sponsors Fort Hood’s Santa’s Workshop.
“Santa’s Workshop is truly an affair of the heart and it’s really all about the Army continuing to take care of its own,” McBride said. “This program started at the company level in the 13th COSCOM over two decades ago, and has grown to where now it is a corpswide, Central Texas-wide program.”
McBride said the program identifies soldiers in need during the Christmas and holiday season to ensure that no child is left behind.
“That’s really what it’s all about, making sure that Christmas day, when that child wakes up they have a decent Christmas,” McBride said. “This program has enabled that and what we’ve learned over the years is that it’s not just the junior enlisted soldiers that are financially strapped during the holidays and this program does not discriminate, so if you can make the case, this program is going to take care of you.”
Damboise said the workshop works throughout the year to raise funds and collect toys by hosting events beginning with Christmas in July, a Garrison Golf Scramble in September, Pig N’ Pint in October, a Thanksgiving Throw down CrossFit competition in November and Breakfast with Santa in December.
Different organizations at Fort Hood and in Central Texas and Army units also host toy drives for donations.
During the ceremony, three checks were presented to Santa’s Workshop.
KCEN-TV Channel 6 presented a check for $5,000, the Fort Hood Housing Office held a fundraiser and donated a check for $1,000 and the 13th COSCOM Association presented a check for $500.