LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, TEXAS –
It was not a traditional sleigh and they were not your typical Santa's helpers, but on Dec. 4, Wal-Mart and Sam's Club associates spread some holiday magic to the families of servicemembers residing at the Fisher House locations at Lackland AFB and Fort Sam Houston as part of the company's "Operation: Deck the Walls" program.
From inflatable snow globes and mini spiral trees to golden grapevine reindeer and nativity scenes, three teams of blue-vested associates delivered and displayed $1,500 in holiday decor to each of the three Fisher Houses on Lackland AFB.
"Suddenly there were all these people, like little elves, all over the place - inside, outside, on the stairs. They were bouncing around, totally together," said Fisher House resident Sandra Comradd.
Ms. Comradd has been at the Fisher House with her mother, who is undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments at Wilford Hall Medical Center, since August.
"The residents had been talking earlier about how we were going to have to push ourselves to be in the Christmas spirit. This has really helped," she said.
"It's a privilege for me to be here for the people living in the houses," said Army retiree Frank Gonzalez, assistant manager at the Potranco Wal-Mart, who was helping decorate one of the houses at Lackland AFB. "This is our way of helping out so (the residents) can enjoy Christmas away from home."
Not only did the teams work on creating a visual holiday extravaganza outside, they spread the holiday joy indoors as well. Each guest room was given its own tree and the common living areas were adorned with cheerful tablecloths, festive centerpieces and red poinsettias.
On Dec. 5, Sam's Club and Wal-Mart presented Fisher House managers Paula Lewis and Inge Godfrey a total of $35,000 in Wal-Mart gift cards - $5,000 per house on each installation - for shopping sprees to benefit the facilities.
Ms. Lewis oversees the Fisher House locations near Wilford Hall at Lackland AFB. Ms. Godfrey manages the houses near Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston.
Being a prudent shopper, Ms. Lewis will be spreading out the $15,000 the Lackland Fisher Houses received. While she did purchase some items during the shopping spree, such as a vacuum cleaner, cleaning supplies, clothes hangers and storage bins, the remaining balance on the cards will be used as needs arise throughout the year.
Wal-Mart and Sam's Club partnered with the Fisher House Foundation this holiday season to support America's troops by bringing the joy of Christmas to military families at each of the 36 Fisher House locations across the nation.
Both Wal-Mart and the Fisher House Foundation are members of America Supports You, a nationwide program launched by the Department of Defense to recognize citizens' support for our military members and communicate that support to members of the armed forces at home and abroad.
"For years we have been a proud partner of America Supports You," said Pat Curran, executive vice president of the People Division for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. "Now, through our partnership with the Fisher House Foundation, we have yet another great opportunity to show our gratitude for the service and courage our servicemen and servicewomen embody every day."
"Wal-Mart is a true champion of our military," said Ken Fisher, chairman, Fisher House Foundation. "We are grateful that they join us in recognizing the need to support our military during their time of need. The holiday decorations, gifts and shopping spree will be a big boost to morale for our house managers and guests this Christmas season."
(Wal-Mart Stores Inc. contributed to this article.)
About the Fisher House Foundation
Fisher House Foundation is best known for the network of 38 comfort homes on the grounds of military and Veterans Affairs major medical centers. The houses are 5,000- to 16,000-square-foot homes, with up to 21 suites, donated to the military and Department of Veterans Affairs by Fisher House Foundation. The foundation provides support to families of patients receiving care at the nearby medical center and has ensured that families of servicemembers wounded or injured in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom do not pay for their stay at a Fisher House or other base facility if they are on a wait list. For more information on the work of Fisher House Foundation, go to www.fisherhouse.org
, or call 1-888-294-8560.