By Sgt. Melissa N. Lessard, 504th Military Intelligence Brigade Public Affairs
(FORT HOOD, Texas, November 29, 2018)– On the morning of November 29 Soldiers, families, friends, and fur babies gathered around A Company, 163rd Military Intelligence Battalion. Members were dressed up in various holiday attire such as deer suits, ugly sweaters, Santa hats, and much more.
The morning was crisp as the company readied to start their first Jingle Bell Toy Ruck in support of Santa’s Workshop here.
“We hosted the Jingle Bell Toy Ruck, which was a three-mile ruck, to build esprit de corps and bring in toys for children ages 8-12,” said 1st Lt. Danielle Tinnell, A Co., 163rd MI BN.
The company counter intelligence platoon leader, 1st Lt. Samantha Turner, said that this helped bring people together to start the holiday spirit and give back to the military community.
Santa’s Workshop, which is located on main post Fort Hood, by the commissary, is a non-profit organization that was created for charitable purposes as a unit-level initiative.
The mission of Santa’s Workshop is to make new toys accessible for children of the Fort Hood community during the holiday Season. In times of financial crisis, Christmas presents may be a luxury.
“I think there is a lot of benefit reaching out to the community,” said Turner. “We are the community at the end of the day. Happy families make for a happy Soldier.”
Tinnell said that it is heartwarming to know that there is a program like this that exists to help families and Soldiers who struggle during this time.
As well as giving back to the community, many Soldiers experienced a boost in morale while participating in the ruck march.
“Coming back from a yearlong deployment, people struggle to get back into the routine and be happy,” said Tinnell.
Soldiers wore lights on their sweaters or rucksacks. Some put lights on their dogs. Festive music was playing during the march as well.
As Soldiers marched back with their ruck sacks full of toys they put them in the box destined for Santa’s workshop.
Outside the company was a table with fresh coffee, got cocoa, and candy canes for members to enjoy after the march.