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  • Writer's pictureH&H Team

Holidays and Heroes

Updated: Jul 8, 2022

In 2015, Kerre Randel Ortegel and her husband, Bob Ortegel, were

inspired to help local military families with holiday assistance. These

families are stationed at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort


That year, with the help of family, friends & neighbors, Holidays &

Heroes was able to help 38 military families of junior enlisted (E1 – E6)

sailors and marines. To demonstrate how much Holidays & Heroes has

grown, 134 junior enlisted families from Marines, Navy, Air Force & Texas

Air National Guard received assistance in 2021. In total, since 2015, 512

families, which includes 877 adults and 1043 children (over 1900

individuals) have received Christmas gifts. This could not have

happened without “an army” of generous individuals who took it upon

themselves to go out and shop for these families, and then to show

hospitality to them at the military family Christmas party.

To connect with deserving families each year, service members are

recommended by the various unit commanders at the base. The

nominated families are given a wish list to fill out for each family

member. The wish lists are turned in to Holidays & Heroes, who then

finds individual sponsors that will shop for that family. The sponsors

bring their wrapped gifts to a “Gathering of the Gifts” event which is

held the night before the families are to receive their gifts. Each gift is

carefully labeled to make sure it gets to the right family, and 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 that 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, lunch &

pictures with Santa Claus are included in the family party experience.

It is an incredible opportunity for the military families to connect with

the community. It is also a way for the community to be able to

personally thank the families for their sacrifice and service.

Highlights from the 2021 Military Family Party (which was held at the

Vintage Flying Museum at Meacham Airport) included an F18 Hornet

that the Navy flew in for static display. Fort Worth Police Department

flew in one of their helicopters and they also brought in a SWAT vehicle

for display. The All Veteran’s Group had Santa parachuted in for his

grand entrance to the party. Caliber Collision presented 2 refurbished

vehicles to 2 service members in need. 3 news media outlets (CBS 11,

Fox 4, and NBC 5) showed up to cover the event.

As grand as all of this is, it is important to remember that it is for the

deserving families who serve our armed forces. Many of them

experience hardships in one form or another. This year there was a

sailor who had just lost his wife of 20 years to covid; another sailor

whose infant daughter has been in a Houston hospital because she was

born with a heart defect which led to significant surgery; a young mom

whose 7-month-old daughter was about to have surgery for a cleft lip.

Many of these service members were facing deployments and would be

separated from their families but knowing that their family would be

able to enjoy Christmas brought them a sense of relief.

Not all of us have served in the military, so we might not understand

from personal experience the challenges that these young families face.

Holidays & Heroes provides an avenue to be able to serve those who

sacrifice so much.

Holidays & Heroes became an official 501c3 nonprofit in March 2020.

For more information, go to their website

Follow them on social media

Instagram: @holidaysandheroesfw

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