Thursday, December 8, 2016

SOWW (and Seuss) At Walter Reed This Christmas!

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Christmas Time is also "Anniversary Time" for Serve Our Willing Warriors. Years before we became a nonprofit, we started out as a Park Valley Church group created by SOWW founders: John and Shirley Dominick.  Our mission:  Giving Christmas gifts and spending time with the Warriors + Their Families at the Walter Reed and Fort Belvoir hospitals. Years later, we still begin every December with the longstanding SOWW tradition of handing out Christmas gifts to Warrior Families, much like a pack of Santa's elves.

This year began with a bang -- but not the fun kind!  As we began loading our U-Haul with gifts, a container holding stocking stuffers fell off the truck and sent bottles flying! Does this kind of stuff happen to Santa when he loads his sleigh?

Fortunately, we brought along some little elves of our own (brothers Ben & Zander Ward) who got right to work retrieving bottles underneath the truck!

Older brother Ben is also one of our amazing fundraisers!  
For this event, he served as the SOWW representative of the 
USO's Dr. Seuss Theme for this Christmas event. 
What a multi-tasker!
Ben Ward (i.e.: The Cat in the Hat) standing by the trees filled with mistletoe at The Bull Run Warrior Retreat.
This year the Walter Reed festivities were hosted at the beautiful USO building.
It was pretty easy to spot due to the amount of elves scattered about the premises.

Team SOWW scurried to set up our tables piled full of
Vint Hill special blend coffee & mugs, warm fuzzy blankets, gift cards, SOWW Christmas ornaments, and handmade Warrior Holiday cards from local schools (plus cookies and candies). 

I don't mean to brag, but we definitely had the cutest elves onsite!
The Ward Bros. manned both ends of the tables to hand out SOWW bags to Warriors to collect their Christmas goodies.

Team SOWW in action:
Giving gifts and sharing information on 
The Bull Run Warrior Retreat.

Outside the excitement builds.
Santa is scheduled to arrive at any minute!

Once Santa arrived, the room overflowed with Warrior Families lining up to meet 
The Elf in Chief!

That Santa! (He gets around!)
Here he is -- planting a saucy smooch on one of the Gold Star Mothers (Maryland Chapter)!

Some additional Elves (non-affliated with Santa) pose with their table of Christmas toys 
collected for the children of our Warrior Families. 

The Bull Run Warrior Retreat sign-up list filled with over two pages of Warriors hoping to stay at the retreat in the future.

We also got to visit with some previous retreat guests!

Captain Reer and her personal SOWW advocate, Ben Ward.

After hours of gift-giving, we handed out the very last of our blankets, coffee packs and gift certificates.

Mission Accomplished
for the 2016 SOWW Gift-Giving at Walter Reed!

We said our farewells and headed back to Haymarket to gear up for the upcoming visit to Fort Belvoir.

Until next year . . . 
Merry Christmas to All at Walter Reed!

PS:  Many thanks to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the USO Warrior and Family Center at Bethesda and their support staff who, once again, opened their doors and allowed us to participate in this heartwarming event.

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