Operation Military Cheer gets huge boost from Lexington Home Builders

Story by David Altom, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

Operation Military Cheer Lexington Homebuilders toy drive pick up

Members of Kentucky National Guard Family Programs proudly display a small portion of the toys donated by Home Builders Care and the Lexington Homebuilders Association. (Photo by Alli Burton, Kentucky National Guard Family Programs)

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Santa and his helpers were out in full force during the handoff of donated Christmas presents from the Home Builders Association of Lexington to members of the Kentucky National Guard last week.   The toy drive was part of Operation Military Cheer, an effort by the Kentucky National Guard’s Family Assistance Center to ensure that the children of Kentucky’s military families across all of the uniform services – active duty and reserve, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine and Coast Guard – have a memorable holiday season.

unnamed (3)

Home Builders Care President Karen Mundy (far right) with Don Sullivan with Family Programs coordinators Cindy Culver and Linda Jones.  (Photo by Alli Burton, Kentucky National Guard Family Programs)

Don Sullivan represents Home Builders Care, the charitable arm of the Home Builders Association of Lexington, the organization charged with collecting the toys for the drive.

“This is the second year that we’ve done this drive for Operation Military Cheer,” said Sullivan.   “It is a pleasure to participate in this worthwhile program again this year. Our mission is to serve the families of Kentucky and what better way to do that than to provide toys for Military families. In 2012 we enjoyed collecting for Operation Military Cheer and another one of our projects included building a new home for a disabled veteran and his family.”

unnamed (5)

(Photo by Alli Burton, Kentucky National Guard Family Programs)

Together with associates of the Home Builders Association, the Remodeler’s Council, local real estate offices and the public, the group collected 1,200 toys and 22 bicycles valued at more than $6,000.  An additional $900 in cash and gift cards were donated as well.

“The Home Builder’s contribution has been unbelievable,” said Cindy Culver, who coordinates Operation Military Cheer for the Kentucky National Guard Family Programs.  “This is only their second year doing this, but they really went all out.  The kids are going to have a great Christmas this year!”

Click here for more photos.

“Santa” even showed up to express his gratitude for the toys collected during the drive.

“It’s so awesome to see such an outpouring of support from the public to our military families,” said Capt. Rob Cooley, who switched uniforms from green to red in celebration of the occasion.  The father of five children himself, Cooley understands the challenges facing today’s parents.

unnamed (1)

“Santa” takes time to thank Cindy Culver, Linda Jones and Jones’ grandson Brooks O’Neal for their help in gathering toys for Kentucky’s military families in time for the holidays. Culver and Jones are the driving force behind the Kentucky Guard’s Operation Military Cheer annual toy drive. (Photo by Alli Burton, Kentucky National Guard Family Programs)

“The holidays can be tough on our troops, especially in today’s economy.  You don’t have to be deployed to have these problems.  Programs like Operation Military Cheer have a huge impact on military families struggling to make ends meet.”

Operation Military Cheer supports military families across all the services, active duty, reserve and National Guard.

To find out how you can become part of Operation Military Cheer contact Cindy Culver or Linda Jones through the Family Assistance Center hotline at 1-800-372-7601.