Fort Gordon's Christmas House helps more than 300 families

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Fort Gordon’s Christmas House officially opened its doors Monday to serve more than 300 military families who need some holiday help.

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Teri Ryan, dressed as Mrs. Claus, greets Col. Rick Windhorn during the opening of Fort Gordon's Christmas House.   Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Teri Ryan, dressed as Mrs. Claus, greets Col. Rick Windhorn during the opening of Fort Gordon's Christmas House.

Soldiers and civilians got an early peek at the toys piled on shelves after a 30-minute opening ceremony filled with carols, applause and a visit from Santa Claus.

The trucks, cars, dolls, action figures and other toys collected during the past four months will be distributed to needy families on Dec. 6 and 7 in what program manager Lynn Harshman calls “organized pandemonium.”

“It’s a big relief for the parents,” Harshman said, to have many of the gifts for their children provided. Parents try hard to set aside some money and not be caught off-guard, but “life happens,” she said.

Planning for the Christmas House takes place year-round, but most of the roughly 70 volunteers get started around August. Volunteers are spread through 10 committees, including toy collection and marketing. There are thousands of soldiers on post, so announcements about the Christmas House start at the brigade level, then trickle down through the battalion and company level, Harshman explained.

Rebecca Layton is one of the volunteer “Christmas House elves” who work behind-the-scenes to pull it all together. Her husband, Col. Joseph Layton, is a brigade commander, and they’ve seen firsthand how hard Christmas can be for some soldiers.

“It brings me a lot of joy,” Layton said of volunteering.

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TheArmyWife 11/22/11 - 09:09 pm
I adore Teri and Rick, but I

I adore Teri and Rick, but I do wish that the AC would have run pictures of the incredible volunteers who did all of the hard work! Thank you all for the countless hours and steady stream of great ideas.

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