The WHY … The WHO … The MISSION
In 2015, Kerre and her husband, Bob Ortegel, decided to have a holiday open house for the neighborhood. They wanted it to be a party with a purpose. Living so close to the Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base inspired the idea to do something for local military families. They approached the Base Commander and the Command Master Chief of the US Navy with their idea. With the blessings of the NAS Fort Worth JRB Base Command and the enthusiasm of their patriotic friends and neighbors, Holidays & Heroes was born.
In 2015, Holidays & Heroes was able to help 38 families of junior ranking US Navy and Marines. In 2016, 43 families received assistance including junior airmen from the US Air Force and Air National Guard. Continuing to grow each year, by 2019 Holidays & Heroes assisted 75 families representing 150 children and 130 adults from the US Navy, Marines, Air Force, Air National Guard, and Army. In addition to the growth in the number of families, the growth in the number of volunteers skyrocketed to nearly 150 volunteers in 2019.
To connect with deserving families each year, the families are recommended by the various unit commanders at the base. The nominated families fill out a wish list for each member of their family. The wish lists are adopted by individual sponsors (members of the community) who shop for the families using their wish lists. The sponsors bring their wrapped gifts to a “Gathering of the Gifts” event held the night before the families receive their gifts. Each gift is carefully labeled to make sure it gets to the correct family and are then distributed to the families at a “Military Family Christmas Party” held just for them. The family party is an opportunity for the families to know they are not alone since many of them are living far from their own families and home. It is a memorable experience for everyone, especially the children. Musical entertainment, games, and pictures with Santa Claus are included in the family party experience. It is an incredible opportunity for the military families and the sponsors to meet each other, and it also allows the sponsors and members of the community to be able to personally thank the families for their sacrifice and their service.
Because of the growth of this event as well as the tremendous need, it became necessary to formally organize as a 501(c)3 to ensure that this tradition will carry on into the future. The nonprofit status was accomplished in the Spring of 2020 in plenty of time to be ready for Christmas 2020.
Holidays & Heroes primary purpose is to provide holiday assistance for military families in need.
Holidays & Heroes is a local effort of community volunteers that provide holiday assistance to military families. Our mission is to show these families they are not alone, and that people in the community truly care about them. This is accomplished though sponsorship of military families by local citizens who provide gifts for the families and a unique Christmas experience for them. Not all of us have served in the military, but we found a way to serve those who serve in the military.
Honoring Those Who Serve