ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. - The sign over the door read "Santa's Workshop" and inside on Dec. 14 about 20 "elves" were busy loading more than 5,500 pounds of toys into three trucks bound for the Calhoun County Department of Human Resources.

Thanks to the depot's efforts over the last month, and the assistance of those "elves," DHR will be able to make Christmas very merry for 242 children in their Preservation of Families program, in addition to 11 installation families who received assistance.

"These children live with a relative or family friend and their care keeps these children from going into the foster care system," said Kendra Lee-East, program supervisor for DHR. "Every year this partnership with the depot makes the difference between our kids getting Christmas or not."

The 242 children are a record in the installation's 27-year history with the Christmas Cheer program, which began by helping depot employees with food for the holidays.

"When we started this program, it was in a warehouse where we had everyone bring canned goods," said Jim Webb, director of community and family activities for the depot.

From those humble beginnings, the program has grown into a mechanism for depot workers to donate more than $50,000 in toys and money for DHR children and installation families in need.

"It is amazing how our tenants and everyone on the depot, get involved with this program," said Lt. Col. Wayne Bondy, commander of DLA Distribution Anniston.

Each sponsored child receives toys and clothes worth between $150 and $175 based on a wish list provided by DHR. For the 11 installation families, their depot co-workers donated $15,374.

"This is what Christmas is all about," said Bondy. "It's all about the depot families helping people in need and making children's Christmas."

DHR Director Doug Heath thanked the volunteers as they gathered to warm up in a meeting room following the Dec. 14 delivery.

"It's a rough year for all of us financially, so I know you had to sacrifice to give this for children you will probably never see," said Heath.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16