America Supports You: Group Takes Christmas on the Road
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 21, 2006 Wal-mart and Operation Homefront are coming together to spread the holiday spirit to military members and their families through “Operation Christmas.”
The Operation Christmas Holiday Caravan will travel to six military communities sprinkled throughout the nation Nov. 22 - Dec. 20 to help kick off the Christmas season with appearances by Santa, tree-trimming craft tables, music and gifts of $20 Wal-mart gift cards.
“The Department of Defense is pleased to have two of our America Supports You partners come together to provide for military members and their families,” said Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communication and public liaison. “Wal-mart, one of ASY’s first corporate team members, and Operation Homefront, who recently received a DoD memorandum of understanding, both have a great track record of being committed to finding ways to support our military.”
For the past eight years, Wal-mart has worked to understand and address the unmet needs of servicemembers and their families. The company has donated millions of dollars to organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars Foundation, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and Soldier Family Assistance Center in San Antonio.
Operation Homefront, a grassroots group headed up by military spouses, is dedicated to providing assistance to family members of deployed troops. The organization has more than 2,500 volunteers in 26 chapters nationwide.
Since space at the parties is limited, Operation Homefront founder Meredith Leyva recommends registering early on the organization’s Web site. She said that registration is essential to receive a gift certificate, which will be provided to the first 200 families that register.
For a listing of Operation Christmas locations and to register, go to http://www.operationhomefront.net/index.asp
At each party, Santa Claus will greet military children with free toys provided by Wal-Mart. He’ll listen to their Christmas requests and read stories to them at the top of each hour, she said.
Families also will be able to create decorations to trim their Christmas trees, and children will have the opportunity to try out the latest toys and electronic games, Leyva said.
“We specifically chose those bases where there are tremendous numbers of deployments and we wanted to spread a little extra holiday cheer for those who deserve it so much,” she said. “It should be a fun and festive holiday event where everybody gets to take away something fun.”