On Saturday, Dec. 16, Dugan & Associates took a team of volunteers to the Heroes Support Network's Operation Santa Military Carnival. This annual event gives military children and their families a one-of-a-kind Christmas experience complete with games, gifts, and a slew of activities like face painting and character meet-and-greets.
For the military men and women in our region, this event is a small way to thank them for their service and their sacrifices. For the nearly 2000 men and women deployed during the holidays, Operation Santa is a way for their families to have a magical Christmas moment even when a key member of the family cannot be present.
Here are the highlights of the event, provided by event organizer Kristi Hilbert:
- Over the course of the year, more than 3,000 man-hours go into the planning and execution of the event
- We used over $2,000 in wrapping paper and over $800 in tape to wrap and bag over 2,500 gifts filling close to 600 individual children's wish lists
- 344 military children (including teens) and a total of 857 military family members attended the carnival even
- 217 "elves" volunteered at the event
- Total attendance including volunteers was an astounding 1,074 people
- Over 200 gifts were provided for the Veterans Leadership Program's Children's Christmas Party
- Christmas morning gifts were provided for 162 children of actively serving military families across local installations who were identified as being in need of assistance. 23 veteran families in need were supported with Christmas morning gifts
- We connected via FaceTime and Social Media with service members deployed at various bases around the world during the event
In addition to our sponsorship and promotion of the event, Dugan & Associates spent the day volunteering. We were assigned to the Jedi Training Center, a Nerf gun target range where kids shoot darts at spinning targets. Whether they hit a target or not--precision aiming with a Nerf gun is hard!--they got to pick a toy of their choice from a huge pile of Nerf toys.
The joy of the event was electrifying, and seeing the smiling faces of children and their families was a special kind of reward. These men and women give so much to their country and to their communities, and their families bear part of that burden as loved ones spend long stretches away from home.
We encourage everyone to give to the Heroes Support Network and to plan to participate in next year's Operation Santa. Our military gives so much to us. We should give back.
Click here to volunteer or to donate to the Heroes Support Network.