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Operation Homefront: Toy drive brightens holidays for military families

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Herald/MARIANNE GISH

Participants pick out toys for the Operation Homefront's toy distribution for families event Tuesday morning at the Fort Hood Community Event and Bingo Center on Fort Hood.

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FORT HOOD — Soldiers and spouses lined the hall of the Fort Hood Community Events Center to select free gifts for their children through Operation Homefront’s annual holiday toy distribution.

Operation Homefront offers a holiday shopping experience to ease the burden on military families ranked staff sergeant and below, as well as wounded warriors of all ranks.

About 900 children were served at this year’s event, said Tracy Curran, community liaison for Operation Homefront’s Texas field office.

Nationally, Operation Homefront distributed more than 9 million toys to

20,000 military children in 2012, according to a news

release.

The San Antonio-based organization hosts a number of events benefiting military families year-round.

Giovanna Anderson milled about, selecting presents for her three children, ages 4, 5 and 13.

“(My kids) loved it,” Anderson said of participating last year.

There are plenty of cars and ninjas, favorites of her 5-year-old son.

Each family received 10 stocking-stuffers, as well as one premium gift per child.

Volunteers, with elf hats atop their heads, restocked tables of toys and guided parents through the selection process.

It was Rebecca Hayes’ first time assisting with Operation Homefront.

“I wanted to help out, because I think it’s a great program,” she said. “It helps the community and includes wounded warriors.”

It is a great feeling to give back to people who have given so much, Hayes said.

Upon leaving the center, families were surprised with a free holiday dinner, including a turkey and all the fixings.

“People are shocked,” said volunteer Rowena Smith of the unexpected meal.

This year is Smith’s third working at the event.

“They helped me when I was in (the service),” Smith said. “I like seeing the smiles on parents’ faces ... every child needs a Christmas.”

Contact Madison Lozano​ at mlozano@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7552.

4 images

Herald/MARIANNE GISH

Participants pick out toys for the Operation Homefront's toy distribution for families event Tuesday morning at the Fort Hood Community Event and Bingo Center on Fort Hood.

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