ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- 'Elves' plugged away at the depot over the past month to bring a bit of Christmas cheer to local children under the care of DHR.

The depot delivered five truckloads of Christmas gifts to Calhoun County's Department of Human Resources on Dec. 16 as part of the annual Christmas Cheer Program.

Anniston Army Depot and the local DHR have a successful, longstanding initiative that provides wrapped gifts to children ranging in age from 3 months to 17 years. This year, 224 children and 10 installation families were sponsored.

The gifts are purchased by depot work groups that come together with donations and shopping expertise. The children even provide wish lists to the depot-aka Santa-through their DHR case workers.

Of course, the children don't see the gifts until Christmastime, when the boxes and bicycles are presented by Santa.

Teri Curry, a security guard with the Directorate of Emergency Services, said she received one wish list from a child who only asked Santa for a pair of gloves. The list also indicated that the four-year-old was a special-needs child with braces on her legs.

A little girl asked Santa for shoes that would fit over her the braces she's forced to wear on her legs.

"I didn't know where to start, but I pretty much decided I was going to find this girl some shoes that would fit with her leg braces," said Curry. "She didn't ask for shoes, but I was excited about helping her."

Curry went to Anniston's Artificial Limb and Brace Center to see what could be done. The manager there said that they wouldn't sell Curry the special shoes because he wanted to donate them. With help from the DHR case worker, an appointment for a shoe fitting was scheduled for the child.

"Gloves were the only thing on the child's wish list, but we got her some dolls, some clothes, a My Little Pony...and she has gloves, too, and a hat to match."

History of Cheer

Depot employees have been bringing holiday happiness to the community for several decades through various projects that help those in need.

Throughout the history of the Christmas Cheer Program, the type of charitable work has changed, but the mission has always been the same-spread holiday cheer.

The depot, in years past, has held food drives or provided resources to area nonprofit agencies. Since the depot is a part of the federal government's Combined Federal Campaign where employees have the opportunity to donate-on an individual level-to agencies here and all over the world, the depot has modified it's Christmas Cheer Program and now focuses on the following two projects:

DHR Children: Employee groups across depot can purchase gifts for a child under the care of the DHR. Employees bring wrapped gifts to a staging area (a.k.a. Santa's Workshop) at the depot before the scheduled delivery to DHR in Anniston. The gifts are taken to the home of the respective child before Christmas Day. Many children receiving these gifts are told the presents came from Santa.

Installation Families: Work areas can collect money and/or gifts for installation families-those coworkers who have experienced hardship this year and have financial needs. Installation families, identified only by a number and their situation, are anonymous to contributors but have been approved for the program through depot leadership. Work areas sponsoring these families can provide money or purchase gifts for the family members.