It's not just a gesture but a Fort Sill tradition that honors the service of Soldiers by ensuring their families share in the happiness and wonder of the season — Col. Jim Peay, commander, US Army Garrison Fort Sill
FORT SILL, Okla. (Dec. 5, 2023) — The melody of "Santa Claus is coming to town" filled the air, setting the tone for a celebration of community and generosity at the Fort Sill Conference Center.
It was here, amidst the tinsel and garlands, the 20th annual Toys for Kids initiative kicked off, led by none other than Santa himself, heralding a season of joy for military families.
The festive spirit was tangible as the jolly man in red, accompanied by Fort Sill's Garrison command team and Family and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (FMWR), distributed gifts and holiday cheer. The initiative has become a cornerstone of the season at Fort Sill, reflecting the strong bonds of the military community, said Col. Jim Peay, commander, US Army Garrison Fort Sill.
"We've been so incredibly fortunate to have such a great community and a team of teams here at Fort Sill," said Peay. “The Toys for Kids program is an amazing resource that ensures our Soldiers and their families have a happy holiday season."
The program's primary mission is to support military families by providing complimentary gifts for their children during the holidays, said Sarah Gersper, director of Fort Sill FMWR. Soldiers are selected by their commands to participate, with the inclusion of those stationed abroad, ensuring that the reach of the program extends far and wide. This year, the initiative is set to bring smiles to 500 children from 200 Soldiers' families with a trove of 1,500 donated toys.
But the effort extends beyond the toys themselves, said Gersper. A volunteer force, drawn from local organizations, civic groups, community teammates, spouses’ clubs, and sponsorships, dedicates time to stock and wrap presents, creating a magical shopping experience for the families.
Under the management of Ethan Briner, FMWR's Special Event manager, the program is a demonstration of the power of community solidarity, said Briner.
Designed to evoke the enchanting atmosphere of Santa’s workshop, the space at Building 6045 Sheridan Road is filled with shelves laden with toys for children of all ages, from newborns to teenagers. Here, Soldiers and their families can select the perfect gift, wrap it and get it ready to place under the Christmas tree.
As the program enters its 20th year, it continues from December 4 through 8, with the final opportunity for Soldiers to choose gifts at 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8.
It's not just a gesture but a Fort Sill tradition that honors the service of Soldiers by ensuring their families share in the happiness and wonder of the season, said Peay.