Holiday 'Magic' -- Event shows post Families festive spirit
Jessica Saunders fixes a hamburger for her 3-year-old son, Andrew (right) during "Magic at Fort Campbell" Saturday at the Family Resource Center. Saunders and her four boys came to enjoy the holidays while her husband, Sgt. Mark Saunders, 2nd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, is in Afghanistan. At left, Andrew's friend, Darren Rider, 7, waits to open his new toy given to him by the Christian County, Ky., Military Affairs Committee.

Saturday's day-long "Magic at Fort Campbell" event told Families everything they need to know about the loving folks of Christian County, Ky.

"We came today because Dad's not around, so I wanted to keep the Christmas spirit up for the kids," said Jessica Saunders, who brought her four boys, Ryan, 6, Riley, 4, Andrew, 3 and Brandon, 18 months, to the event.

Saunders' husband, Sgt. Mark Saunders is downrange with 2nd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.

Saunders had to cover her face with her hands to keep from weeping as she spoke about how much an event like "Magic" meant to her Family.

"We're just staying busy right now. If there is a lull in activity while your husband's deployed, you start getting sad," Saunders said as she wiped away her tears. "There's something going on every day with us. It's how we cope."

"There's only four and a half months until he comes home," she said smiling.

Saunders' oldest son, Ryan, 6, looked as if he wanted to speak about his Dad, but when asked, he just stared at his new toy.

"I think he's going to cry," his Mom said.

"I just want my husband to get his butt home. We love him to death. These kids miss their Dad," she added.

Saunders good friend and fellow spouse, Sondra Rider, who brought her two boys, Darren, 7, and Jordan, 5, tried to lighten the mood. Rider's husband, Staff Sgt. Chad Rider is deployed with 101st Sustainment Brigade.

"I came today because she made me," she said jokingly.

Rider is dealing with some tough personal issues of her own, as well.

"I have a degenerative disc disease in my back, but I don't let that stop me. I'm a Mom, I can't," said Rider, who was obviously hurting. "I love the holidays and a little pain won't stop me from coming here."

The Christian County Military Affairs Committee, along with nearly 30 area sponsors, brought love and kindness to Fort Campbell Families' when they saw to it that every Family like, Saunders and Rider received an invite, every child had an opportunity to visit with Santa and was given a toy and every Family member was fed a hot meal.

"The fact that we took this building and transformed it into another 'atmosphere' was the 'Magic,'" said David Jones, Military Affairs Chair for Christian County. "We just enjoy the smiling faces of the kids as they come here and there's plenty to eat for them. We've even had Senator Joey Pendleton back there cooking."

Pendleton helped bring together the Kentucky Cattleman's Association, Kentucky Pork Producers and the Kentucky Dairy Council for the event.

"It's just a small way to say we really appreciate what you do. I mean, with our men and women over there fighting, the least we can do is try to do something for the Families at Christmas time," said Pendleton. "We've had plenty of volunteers here today and they've come from all over the state of Kentucky."

This isn't the first time Christian County has put on its 'Magic' at Fort Campbell during the holidays.

"We do this as a community, during deployment years, to show the Families at Fort Campbell that [Christian County] are here for them," said Kelli Pendleton, Military Affairs Committee spokesperson. "It makes deployment a little easier, even if it's just for a few minutes to take their minds off Mom and Dad being away."

Page last updated Fri December 17th, 2010 at 16:33