In an effort to spread Christmas cheer, Master’s Press and the Freedom Care Warrior Project have teamed up to give veterans a merry Christmas.

The duo will host Hugs for Heroes, an event to recognize and appreciate veterans during the holiday season, at the Dallas VA on Saturday, Dec. 21. 

For this campaign, children in Graham, Bryson and Jacksboro will write letters to veterans voicing appreciation for their service to the country.

“We’re going to hit 125 vets in the Dallas VA,” said Sherri Counts Chapman, Master’s Press graphic designer and event co-organizer. “We are going to bring them down some Christmas cookies that are donated by Momma’s Catering.”

Master’s Press will make T-shirts that say “Hug a Hero,” and are designed with arms printed on the back, just like a constant hug. The shirt will also feature the names of sponsors printed on the back. DCM Metal Fabrication owner Brad Doyle will cut Chapman’s design of a waving American Flag with the silhouette of a soldier and the words, “Hug A Hero” into  metal 6-by 9-inch steel plaques, which will then be painted by children in Bryson. After that, Bryson Girl Scout Troop 8324 will wrap the plaques in the T-shirts and tie them off with ribbons to be hand-delivered by area children to a veteran.

It truly is a community effort. 

“They are going to be going out there and physically give them a hug,” Chapman said. “The 4-H is going to participate, definitely a lot of the kids in Bryson, and there’s also some kids in Girl Scouts from here. So there are kids from all over the community. They’re going to be the ones to pass out the plaques, and it will help make them a little civically minded. At this time of the year, it’s really easy to get wound up in your own thing when you’re a child. We want them to think and do for others.”

Freedom Care Warrior Project President Jon Van Winkle said the veterans, whom they feed every third Saturday, will appreciate the hugs given by children and that children will learn more about what veterans have done for their country.

“I think our younger generation doesn’t understand the sacrifices,” he said. “I think (veterans) are going to be just flabbergasted at the whole idea. It means so much to veterans to know that people care. As far as the veterans go, I can’t even tell you how much they’ll appreciate it.”

Sponsors are needed for the event, and any monetary sponsorships will be accepted. Those donating $100 and more will have their names printed on the back of the Hugs for Heroes shirt. Funds will help pay for shirts and plaques. Remaining funds will benefit the FCWP, which gives veterans a retreat in Graham, where they can stay and visit with fellow veterans.

“It’s just part of the act of giving, what we can do to give back,” Van Winkle said, adding that Veteran’s Day is not the only day vets should receive support from their communities. “These people have injuries for the rest of their lives. Christmas comes and goes. The disabilities of someone, they don’t.”

Additionally, Pizza Hut will host a $5 buffet from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, where FCWP veterans will greet and speak with customers, and employees of Master’s Press will wait tables. All tips will benefit Hugs for Heroes.

“We just want it to be a fun event and a chance to think of our soldiers,” Chapman said. “Some of them may not have family anymore. You lose limbs and have a child come up and hug you, and imagine how you would feel. We want them to see that not just adults understand what they’ve done, but there’s kids that love and respect them also.”

To become a sponsor or to have your child participate in the event, call Chapman at (940) 521-0805.