REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- The U.S. Army Materiel Command held its annual holiday open house and tree lighting ceremony for employees and Families, hosted by Gen. Dennis L. Via, AMC commanding general, at the headquarters Dec. 13.

The open house is an annual event for AMC headquarters employees and their Families to enjoy a potluck luncheon and holiday music from the AMC band.

Before lighting the tree, Via stressed the importance of Family and the invaluable perseverance of the AMC workforce during the past year.

"Thank you for all you do, especially considering this difficult year with sequestration and a government shutdown," Via said. "You always come through. You always made sure the Soldiers had what they needed. It is a privilege to be your commanding general."

After the official lighting of the AMC holiday tree, the workforce and Families sang holiday carols, and Families took photos with a special guest - Santa.

"This event could not have been pulled off without our volunteers, and the open house was a team effort," said Sharon Browne, co-director of the open house. "I loved that this event was a festive occasion that brings our AMC family together."

Prior to concluding the event, Via reminded the team to remember the deployed Soldiers, civilians and contractors in their thoughts and prayers.

"This is a very challenging time for them and their Families with many of these Soldiers deployed one, two, three, four, five, six, and even seven times," Via said. "It is a very tough time for our deployed Soldiers being away from home and Family during the holidays, especially for the Gold Star Families, who have suffered a loss and who will have an empty place at their dinner table."

AMC employees also supported a holiday food and toy drive.

"This year 26 Families will be provided food and toys on behalf of AMC employees. We hope to give these Families hope and put a smile on their faces during the holiday season," said Joy Hetler, co-chair of the drive. "It is just rewarding to us knowing that we helped individuals and Families in need."