Every year in December, Judy Harter and her crew of jolly elves come together in a show of support for military families through Temecula and the surrounding communities. This year’s Support Our Troops event, scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 3, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. promises to be bigger and better than ever, according to Harter.
“This year we will be in a hangar at Camp Pendleton,” she explained. “I’m really excited about being on Camp Pendleton, it feels like coming home. It’s just great that they don’t have to come up to us, we get to go to them.”
This year, All From The Heart will celebrate its 14th annual Support Our Troops event, bringing together active-duty military families, disabled veterans, community organizers, local businesses and volunteers in a celebration of the Christmas holidays.
Each year a group of military families, 30 to be exact, are selected by Family Readiness Officers to receive Christmas gifts, based off a wish list each family member submits, and a free holiday dinner. Each family has a special circumstance such as combat injuries, medical issues or special needs children, just to name a few. For many of the families, this could be their only opportunity to receive Christmas gifts.
So, what does it take to make it all happen? Lots and lots of volunteers, and lots and lots of sponsors, said Harter, who is also the founder and president of All From The Heart.
Sponsorship opportunities are available at a variety of levels, from sponsoring a family’s Christmas wish list, to shoppers and wrappers and even “hosts” who dedicated their day to spending time with their “family” the day of the event.
“We spend $100 on each family member and are honoring 30 active military families this year,” Harter said. “Sponsors can choose the size of the family they wish to honor anywhere from two to eight people.”
Harter said it is a privilege to sponsor a family’s holiday shopping list.
“It gives you the opportunity to shop for members of an active military family with a special circumstance,” she said. “They have big stuff going on in their lives and sponsors have the opportunity to make their holidays a little bit brighter.”
Sponsors are invited to attend the event and meet the family they sponsor, spending time with each family member, making sure all the family’s needs are met.
For those who are looking to be a part of the event, but who may not have the time to spend at Camp Pendleton Dec. 3, they can be part of what Harter calls, “the big surprise.”
“It’s something that happens at the end of the event after all the families have opened their gifts,” she explained. “A simple donation of $150 ensures that every child receives a special gift. I can’t tell you what it is, because I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but it is age appropriate and includes the child’s favorite colors or fictional character. We take the time to choose something that they are going to absolutely love.”
Harter said there is no limit on the number of “Big Surprises” sponsors can donate for.
Other needs include monetary donations, or donations of services such as face painters, jolly jump and kid’s corner attendants and virtually anything else that can make the party fun for children.
“There is no number too small,” Harter said. “We would love you have you attend and participate at any level; Sponsor, shopper and/or hosting a family for the day. These are our heroes and we can never do enough to repay them for the gift of our freedoms.”
For more information on All From The Heart and the Support Our Troops Event, visit www.allfromtheheart.org.