'A HUGE SCOOP OF LOVE' - Christmas House tradition continues at Fort Eisenhower

By Laura LeveringDecember 1, 2023

1 / 7 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Lori Pfleiger, Christmas House president, far right, welcomes a group of community partners to the Christmas House Open House held Nov. 30. Also pictured with Pfleiger (from left to right) are Christmas House committee members Lori Branch, Nomi Stanton, and Jeanie Cabral. (Photo Credit: Laura Levering, U.S. Army Signal School) VIEW ORIGINAL
2 / 7 Show Caption + Hide Caption – "This is what Fort Eisenhower is about - bringing our community together," Fort Eisenhower Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Aaron Rose said of the Christmas House. (Photo Credit: Laura Levering, U.S. Army Signal School) VIEW ORIGINAL
3 / 7 Show Caption + Hide Caption – An emotional Nomi Stanton, Christmas House advisor, thanks community partners for their support of the program during an open house that gave them a chance to see firsthand their donations at work. (Photo Credit: Laura Levering, U.S. Army Signal School) VIEW ORIGINAL
4 / 7 Show Caption + Hide Caption – (Photo Credit: Laura Levering, U.S. Army Signal School) VIEW ORIGINAL
5 / 7 Show Caption + Hide Caption – (Photo Credit: Laura Levering, U.S. Army Signal School) VIEW ORIGINAL
6 / 7 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Some of the Christmas House community partners pose for a photo with Santa and volunteers during an open house hosted by the Christmas House committee on Nov. 30. (Photo Credit: Laura Levering, U.S. Army Signal School) VIEW ORIGINAL
7 / 7 Show Caption + Hide Caption – (Photo Credit: Laura Levering, U.S. Army Signal School) VIEW ORIGINAL

The holidays are upon us and are already looking brighter for hundreds of Fort Eisenhower families thanks to the compassion and generosity of the community.

Fort Eisenhower’s Christmas House, a program aimed at assisting service members with providing some joy and relief at Christmastime, will be serving “a huge scoop of love” to 426 families (865 children) said Nomi Stanton, Christmas House advisor and spouse of Maj. Gen. Paul Stanton, U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Eisenhower commanding general.

The program is open to active-duty service members E-1 through E-6, from all branches of service, who have children ages birth through 11. To be considered, service members must submit a Christmas House application indicating a financial need. If approved, the service member will be contacted with a specific day and time to “shop” at the Christmas House between Dec. 11-14. In an effort to keep the “magic of Christmas alive,” children are not permitted. Instead, a volunteer elf greets and guides the service member through shopping.

Inside the Christmas House, multiple trees, wreaths, and other festive décor fill the warehouse-like building. Shelves are lined with toys and sorted by age groups, and service members are able to use a cart to shop with ease. Each family who goes through Christmas House will be able to select one high-dollar and one low-dollar ($20 price mark average) toy per child. Each family also receives a boardgame, stocking stuffers, books, and pet items for those who have furry family members. Upon leaving the building, they also receive a holiday meal’s worth of food – the option of a ham or turkey, plus a box of food.

Lori Pfleiger, Christmas House president, began volunteering with the program in 2011 as a spouse and has remained involved ever since. Her husband, Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald Pflieger, was the 21st Signal Regimental and Fort Gordon command sergeant major at the time. Lori said the need for this program is greater than ever, especially given the present economy – which is one of the reasons they opened it up to E-6 service members, whereas in the past the cutoff was E-5.

“We want to take care of the Soldiers, and we want to take care of as many families as we can,” Lori said.

Christmas House operates solely on volunteers and donations from the community. At its core, the organization has about 12 volunteers who work year-round, with the exception of about three months following Christmas. Many of them have full-time careers outside of Christmas House (Lori included), but they dedicate their time and energy because they want to make sure no military family goes without, especially during the holidays.

“One of the most incredible things about joining the military is how military folks take care of military folks – it is an extended family,” Nomi said. “Duty, honor, country are not just three words that we say. For my family, it is everything.”

Now in her third year of volunteering, Nomi became emotional sharing that this would be her final season with Christmas House due to an upcoming move. When asked what she hopes to leave behind as she reflects on her volunteer work with Christmas House, she said “gratitude.”

“This experience, for me, added a new layer of how beautiful it is to be a military family, and how we take care of each other. I am full of gratitude, and I am leaving behind gratitude.”

Did you know?

The Christmas House has been bringing joy to military families for nearly six decades. What began in 1966 as a group of nurses hosting teddy bear drives for children of deployed Soldiers has evolved into a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that through the generosity of community donors is able to provide gifts to local military families. Last year, Christmas House served approximately 422 children and 240 families with the help of approximately 50 organizations and more than 100 individuals who donated.

For more information about Christmas House, click here.