It seemed like just another day at Womack Army Medical Center. Patients were coming and going. Monitors were beeping. Deadlines were rapidly approaching and passing. Suddenly, the hallway was filled with the sound of jingling bells. Looks of surprise were changed to smiles as Mr. and Mrs. Claus and two elves appeared.
Sgt. 1st Class Jason Guenther from the United States Army Special Operations Aviation Command and his Family brought holiday cheer to Fort Bragg’s WAMC Dec. 22 by dressing up as Santa, Mrs. Claus and two elves.
Starting in the pediatric center, they purposefully roamed through the hallways in search of children and anyone needing a dose of holiday cheer. Toys and candy were given to every child, staff member and bystander they encountered.
“We feel very blessed with everything that we’ve been given and just wanted to give back,” said Carrie Guenther, wife of Sgt. 1st Class Guenther and an Army veteran. “We had so many people that were willing to give that brought this to (reality).”
Guenther and his Family had been trying to coordinate the event for some time but were unable to bring their vision to reality due to lack of resources and deployments that kept his Family separated during the holidays. Through donations, careful planning and coordination, they were able to finally bring their vision to life.
“We got the costumes together so that we could give our time, but we needed help when it came to the gifts,” Carrie said.
“Operation Homefront and the U.S. Army Special Operations Command’s Headquarters Company donated all of the gifts,” said Jason Guenther. “We were able to purchase the candy canes.”
Operation Homefront, comprised of more than 2,500 volunteers, is a national nonprofit organization that provides assistance to military Family members and to wounded warriors.
“It was a surprise and a blessing in disguise because even though the staff knew he, his wife, and kids were coming, it was still a surprise to them because of the fact that at that moment when they came, we had a little bit of business going on that was kind of stressful,” said Maj. Belinda Gibbs, the WAMC pediatric unit officer. “It dampened the situation.”
“I liked the concept and we’ve had it done before, but this is the first time that I had witnessed it myself. I asked them if they were willing to do it next year, because this is something that we’d most definitely like to do again,” Gibbs continued.
Guenther said that he hopes to teach his two young sons the joy of giving and his Family looks forward to bringing more holiday cheer to WAMC in the future.
“It was a great eye-opener and pleasant event for all of us,” said Gibbs.