Christmas Spirit was in the air Friday night on Fort Hood during the start of the annual Celebration of Love event.
Hundreds of volunteers spend countless hours prepping to host the weekend event in hopes of expressing appreciation for Soldiers during the holiday season.
“Some Soldiers may need a little extra help getting ready for the holiday season, so we try to provide something that would help out during this time,” said Michael Ashford, the president and executive director of Celebration of Love. “We provide the makings for a Christmas meal, which includes a turkey, a pie, four cans of green beans, four cans of corn, two boxes of mac and cheese, apple sauce, milk and rice.”
Live music, free food, lots of fun and toys were just the start of the fun night.
Over 350 bikes were gifted to military families and four soldiers were selected to receive a new car.
“They’re all great soldiers, so they go through a selection process, they go through a committee, then we decide who gets the vehicles throughout our partnership.” said Tom Ramsey, Founder of Celebration of Love .
Out of 100 soldiers that applied, the four that received the car were all nominated by their superior.
“We’re just happy we can give them something after all the freedom they give us,” said Ramsey.
“So we bring about 150 volunteers from the outside community onto Fort Hood so they get a chance to meet and interact with Soldiers,” Ashford said. “This gives our civilian population an opportunity to come to Fort Hood and show our Soldiers just how much they appreciate what they do for our country.”
The volunteers for COL included not just people from outside Fort Hood, but also Soldiers and Family members from local units and personnel from ACS.
“Over the past two years, I have had the opportunity be part of a lot of programs like this,” said Sgt. Rahmindah Martinez, command financial sergeant with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. “To be able to bring joy to someone else and to see the looks on the children’s faces is just great.”
“In my heart, and as you can see by the volunteers here, no one is more important than our Soldiers and their Families,” Ashford said.
“Today’s event is really to honor our Families, what they give, their husbands and wives serving the military,” Ramsey said. “We are very thankful and feel privileged to be here and help our military Families.”