Operation Christmas Bear embraces military this weekend

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Posted: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 6:00 am

As long as their moms and dads wear the uniform, their sacrifice remains the same, and for that the local community would like to say "thank you."

It’s not too late to sign up for Saturday’s Operation Christmas Bear, the Tennessee Valley’s ninth annual holiday celebration for active duty, Guard, Reserve and deployed Department of Defense civilian family members, as well as wounded warriors and their families. To register, call Army Community Service at 876-5397 with your sponsors’ name, rank, unit and number of children attending.

"We want to express our appreciation to our active duty, National Guard, Reserve and those people that support our military, our deployed Department of Defense civilians," Mary Breeden with Army Community Service said.

Saturday’s event begins at 1 p.m. at the Huntsville Jaycees building, 2180 Airport Road, with Santa arriving by fire truck. The afternoon continues with professional photos with Santa, inflatables, robots, trains, face painting, crafts, a magician, food and more – all at no cost to the military families.

With the drawdown in Iraq and the departure of many of the Arsenal’s young Soldiers due to BRAC in recent years, the community has a tendency to forget that there is still a strong military presence in the Huntsville area, organizers said. Their service and sacrifice should not go unrecognized.

"We do have a military here and we love them and all the sacrifices that they make," Breeden said. "This is just one day that we can step back and say thank you. We’re not a big post with all the flags waving and the troops moving out in mass, we’re the one or two families sitting at an airport waiting for somebody to come back or say goodbye. This is the chance for us to all get together."

More than 300 children attended the event last year. This year organizers are hoping for even more, with 350 stuffed bears waiting to make their home in the arms of a military child.

"We’re looking forward to seeing all of them," Breeden said.

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