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Camo Santa is back! 6 News, H-E-B team up to help military families

Camo Santa will look a little different in 2020 due to COVID-19 but you can still help military families with a simple text message.

6 News and H-E-B partnered once again for the annual Camo Santa Toy Drive, but it will be a little different in 2020.

Instead of donating toys at H-E-B locations, you can text SANTA to 72727. All money raised will go directly to Santa's Workshop on Fort Hood. The money will be used to buy toys for the children of Fort Hood families.

"COVID has not impacted our ability to have funds this year," said Katheryn Light, President of the Workshop. "We were very blessed last year with our operating budget so we came into this year a little bit ahead."

Light said they are thankful for all of the donations made from Central Texans last year because they expected a bigger need. As a result, they were able to assist 900 more families this holiday compared to 2019.

"This year we serviced a little more than 1,400 families which equates to around a little more than 2,700 children who are beneficiaries of the program," she said.

Santa's Workshop is a non-profit organization created to make new toys accessible for children of the Fort Hood military community during the holiday season.

In years past, the 6 News team did live shots for two weeks at H-E-B's across Central Texas asking for your toy donations. However, due to COVID-19 concerns, H-E-B chose not to have the toy bins.

Light said Camo Santa has always been important to the workshop and because of the pandemic and the safety precautions in place that eliminated the toy drive altogether, the need for donations for 2021 is real in hopes of keeping their organization from falling behind.

"Well, we don't know what's going to come next year, getting back to the uncertainty piece," she said. "We deplete our toy inventory quite a bit, as you can imagine, by the end of the second week of shop days. Camo Santa has always set us up for our coming board year."

Santa's Workshop board year runs from March through the end of April. The way it's set up, Camo Santa falls at the end of the previous board year which helps the incoming board as far as funds available to make purchases for needs that year.

"Toy prices always go up so we sometimes have to increase the amount our toy buyer can spend to account for inflation," Light told 6 News. "It makes our operation a lot easier if we start off our board year ahead and not trying to play catch up."

She said any catch up could impact future decisions with the Workshop, like capping how many families can be helped and whether or not it needs to be capped at a specific rank the next year.

"Everything that HEB and Camp Santa provides us this year, even though we have been blessed this year, it really helps us for our next board year so we are able to continue the service that we provide the families," she said.