ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (WDRB) – Operation Homefront distributed 200 meals to military families in the Fort Knox community Monday afternoon.

The American Legion Hardin Post 113 was transformed into a satellite workshop for Santa. Tables were stacked with hundreds of games, puzzles, toys, tins of popcorn, gift cards, non-perishable food and cleaning supplies.

“We’re really all about giving back to our servicemen and women and making their holiday a little bit more cheerful,” said Kristen Henry, the Operation Homefront project manager.

The Holiday Meals to Military Families project is designed to provide a stress-free meal when thing might be a bit tight at home.

“Sometimes, the holidays can be stressful financially on military families,” Henry said. “So this is just a small way we can give back and say thank you for your service and your sacrifice.”

The program started in 2009 when a Beam, Inc. employee picked up the grocery tab for a military family that couldn’t afford the $12 bill. That inspired volunteers to provide 500 meals for military families in Fort Campbell. It grew to add Fort Knox the next year. The year, the program will serve more than 8,000 families across the country.

Nicole Tyra came to the American Legion Post to pick up a meal and toys for her family. One of her three sons, Bentley, joined her. He picked out a game to share with his brothers, and he wore the perfect shirt to meet Santa.It was green with big white words: "Santa, I can explain."

Tyra said this is a big blessing to her family, and she is thankful for the group’s compassion. Tyra’s husband is on active duty and will not be home for Christmas.

“It’s a really good thing for the kids to have and for us to have,” Tyra said. “When our husbands are deployed, our families kind of struggle a bit. And the holidays are pretty horrible when they don’t have their dads and family around.”

She said a simple gift of a meal and some toys helps provide some extra holiday cheer to military families.

“We get to have an enjoyable holiday, even if our spouses are gone or here," she said. "It’s just really wonderful."

Monday’s event was sponsored by Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits of Kentucky. Beam Suntory, P&G and Dollar General also donated to the project and provided volunteers.

For more ways to volunteer and serve with Operation Homefront, visit the group’s website by clicking here.

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