When it’s the holiday season, organizations such as the police and fire departments, Lions Club, the City of Harker Heights and countless others focus on the spreading of joy to families in their community who need food, clothing and toys.
If these groups didn’t come forward, children especially and their families would go without during Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Most of these collection drives and fundraisers have been going on for several months prior to November and December with some of them continuing up to just a few days prior to Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
The Harker Heights Fire Department and Harker Heights Police Department operate the largest donation programs in the city.
The HHFD teams up with the Harker Heights Lions Club for an annual toy and Santa Pal Drive.
The Santa Pal Program requires residents to apply in person at the HHFD headquarters, 401 Indian Trail, from Dec. 5 through Dec. 9 from 9 a.m. to noon and on Dec. 7 from 9 a.m. to noon and 5-7 p.m.
The documentation required at the time of application includes:
(1) Proof of residency in Harker Heights. Lease agreements, a utility bill, etc. will be accepted. Phone bills will not be considered proof of residency
(2) Proof of income and other resources. If a family is receiving other assistance such as food stamps, a food stamp printout is required at application
(3) a Texas driver’s license or Texas I.D.
(4) birth certificates for all persons listed on the application
(5) a Social Security card for everyone listed on the application.
Harker Heights High School students in the Homeless Awareness Response Program (H.A.R.P.) are eligible.
The difference between the Santa Pal program and the Christmas Toy Drive, sponsored by the HHFD and the Lions Club, is that applicants who have no children will receive food only. Residents who do have children will receive both toys and food, according to HHFD Executive Assistant Betty Delong.
Donations of new (unwrapped in their original packaging) for local children ages 0-17 toys and cash for the Toy Drive will be accepted through Dec. 15.
Drop-off locations for the Toy Drive are at the HHFD, 401 Indian Trail, Harker Heights Pet Adoption Center, Stewart C. Meyer Harker Heights Public Library, and the Harker Heights Recreation Center.
For more information about the HHFD/Lions Club Santa Pal and Toy Drive, call 254-699-2688.
The Harker Heights Police Department is operating the Blue Santa Program that provides new bicycles and helmets benefitting the Homeless Awareness Response Program (H.A.R.P) and a Thanksgiving Food Drive.
Contact the Community Services Division for more information at 254-953-5400, extension 5 or email CThomas@HarkerHeights.gov.
The HHPD Community Services Division continues to accept bicycles. Community Services received names from school counselors of deserving students. Bicycle donations will be accepted until Friday, Dec. 2.
TNC Appliance Services, LLC, donated 20 turkeys for the Healthy Homes Division Thanksgiving Food Drive.
On Nov. 21 at 9 a.m., the Healthy Homes Division of HHPD will be providing these 20 turkeys and dinner boxes to families that have been clients they have worked with throughout the year.
The HHPD Criminal Investigations Division has donated non-perishable food items for the families that were selected to receive a Thanksgiving Dinner Box.
For more information about setting up an appointment to drop off donations, contact the Healthy Homes Division at 254-953-5429.
The Activities Center at the Stewart C. Meyer Public Library is sponsoring a Holiday Food Drive through Nov. 26 and is asking the public for donations of items to benefit the Killeen ISD H.A.R.P. Program
Sarah Gibbs, activities coordinator, told the Herald that the following items will be accepted: canned beans, ravioli, vegetables, fruit, soup, and meat (15 oz.), peanut butter, chili, breakfast cereal or oatmeal, pasta, Ramen noodles, boxed mac and cheese, cornbread/stuffing, rice, potatoes, gravy mixes, and any boxed or packaged desserts (those needing water or milk).
The drop-off locations for these items are the Activities Center, 400 Indian Trail or the Recreation Center, 307 Miller’s Crossing.
Harker Heights Parks and Recreation is once again sponsoring its annual Tree Lighting Celebration on Dec. 1, 6 p.m., at City Hall, according to Adam Trujillo, activities and special events manager.
“The evening will include the serving of snacks and refreshments, music by the HHHS Choir Department and the lighting of the tree,” Trujillo said.
The Annual Frost Fest will take place, Dec. 9, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., at Harker Heights Community Park, 1605 Knights Way.
The event features photos with Santa, a Holiday Farmer’s Market, food vendors, Santa’s Workshop and more.
The fun of Frost Fest continues on Saturday, Dec. 10, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. with a new edition of “Howdy Holidays.”
The Saturday event will be a more relaxed occasion with a craft fair, games and activities for families.
Trujillo said, “We’re excited to add the “Howdy Holidays” event on Saturday. I love seeing this coming together and seeing families having a great time together.”