FORT HOOD, Texas - Beautiful, blue skies and warm, sunny weather were the perfect backdrop for the 2nd Annual Togetherness Day event here, Oct. 22.
The smell of popcorn and the sounds of gospel music filled the air as service members and their families gathered in the parking lot of the Spirit of Fort Hood Chapel to enjoy a day of fellowship and fun.
LaDonna White, special events coordinator for Comanche Chapel, explained her motivation behind creating the event.
“God gave me this inspiration. It was time for all the services, no matter what chapel you’re at, to come together and have a day of fun, fellowship and activities,” she said. “That way you get an opportunity not only to know different people in the community, but put that information out, and just have a good time and spread the gospel and have a fun day.”
The event was organized in collaboration with with the Fort hood Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Programs, and White is proud of the fact that it has grown exponentially from last year. There were nearly 30 different informational booths, compared to the to just over 10 last year. Over 200 volunteers supported the event this year doubling from last year There were also more games and activities and increased participation from congregations and organizations.
Chaplain (Capt.) Eugene Savarimuthu is new to Fort Hood and was the project officer for this year’s Togetherness Day event. He explained that the intention of the event is to have a direct line of communication that empowers leadership Soldiers and families to share resources.
“The purpose of the whole event is to get connected with our families, Soldiers and the ministry partners,” he said, “so that we can tell this community there are several opportunities they can use in their lives. Every organization has to get out there and get to the people what actually they are doing.”
Savarimuthu said the success of last year’s event became the template for this year and he was excited for the chapel communities, auxiliaries, ministry partners and volunteers to return and make this year’s festivities the most successful yet.
Service members and their families enjoyed a variety of games and activities such as face-painting, corn hole, volleyball and a dunk booth. Volunteers from the Soldiers Hospitality House kept eventgoers cool with fresh shaved snow cones in an array of fruity flavors. Cotton candy enthusiasts were treated to colorful clouds of “fairy floss” spun right before their eyes.
Retired Chief Warrant Officer 2 Rick Beckman brought is family out to enjoy the day. After his daughter Emma nailed the bullseye on the dunk tank, he applauded the volunteers for their efforts.
“It’s a great event. It’s a lot of volunteers that put a lot of effort into it,” Beckman said.
Military spouse Lashunza Dowe looked on as her daughter Phoenex practiced her hula-hoop skills. She explained that these events provide much needed support to military families.
“Military families, we’re always moving around, and you don’t have that support at home because you’re new to the area most times, and you get it here with the military so it’s lovely,” she said. “A lot of people have big families, so it’s good to have the free events.”
Togetherness Day is just one of many events created to bridge the gap between service members and their families, and the community. White said she looks forward to growing the event and increasing participation.
“It’s been great. Every year it’s getting a little bit bigger. This is a little bit bigger than what it was last year,” she said. “It’s awesome for us to be able to provide this, not only to all service members on Fort Hood, but to the community.”
The event ran simultaneously with Cowboys 4 Heroes Bumpers and BBQ event at the Phantom Warrior Center, where 15,000 plates of free barbeque were served to Fort Hood families.