The holidays are a time for giving, and a time for receiving.  Most importantly, it’s a time for remembering the ones who are not able to spend the holiday season with us.

Smiles, joy, and excitement could be felt across the room as Santa and one of his elves made their appearance at the fifth annual Survivor Outreach Services Christmas party Dec. 7.

“The important part of the events we hosts, most importantly the Christmas party, is to let the Families know that they are never forgotten,” said Charlotte Watson, Survivor Outreach Services, program manager.

The event, which was held at the Family Readiness Group Center, is one of the many events hosted by the Fort Bragg SOS on a yearly basis.

“It gives them the opportunity to get together and be around other Family members who have gone through similar experiences as them,” said Watson.

The main mission of Fort Bragg SOS is to advocate on behalf of all Families who have suffered the loss of a Soldier and educate the community about the Survivor Outreach Services Program.   The SOS also honors fallen Soldiers with a “Wall of Heroes,” a revolving memorial.

Some of the events at the party included arts and crafts for the appropriate age groups, bonding time with other Family members,  a pizza party and most importantly, a visit from Santa where each child was presented with a gift.

As part of the SOS tradition, each child is awarded a Fort Bragg medallion in honor of their fallen loved one. This year, five medallions were presented by, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, deputy commander, XVIII Airborne Corps to the children who had recently lost a parent, or a loved one.

“I love coming back here and seeing everyone,” said Staci Chiomento.

Chiomento, a Gold Star wife who lost her husband to the war in 2006 said, “It really helps my 12-year-old daughter with the healing process. It’s a wonderful, bonding time for us.”

Although being at the event creates a lot of emotions for the Chiomento Family, they are happy to know they have somewhere to go where they can share the same feelings and emotions with the others in the room.

“It makes you sad in a way, but then it makes you happy to be here – truly a sense of mixed emotions,” said Chiomento.

The Fort Bragg SOS would not be able to accomplish their mission without the support of their volunteers. Since they are an office with a small staff, they rely on volunteers to assist, and ensure their events are a successful one.

If anyone wants to volunteer at the Fort Bragg SOS, their office is located at Building 2-1361 Knox Street, (corner of Knox and Macomb). For more information, call 396-0384.