KILLEEN — Santa made his first public appearance of the holiday season Saturday and Sunday at the Fort Hood Spouses Club’s 39th Annual Holiday Bazaar held at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.

He was the star of the show for the event, for sure, but behind the scenes of the club’s largest fundraising event, were the nearly 40 volunteers who put the event together as part of a year-long effort, according to Dana Key, FHSC President.

“It definitely takes a lot of effort, but it is pure joy and love. It’s a labor of love for all of us,” Key said. “This year it’s been extra challenging because, for example, last year we had over 150 vendors, but due to COVID-19, we had to cut our number in half, and we have had to make lot of extra allowances, but to us it was worth it because this is our largest fundraiser of the year, and it enables us to give grants to the community.”

The Fort Hood Spouses Club is centered on participating in charitable works and donating to other non-profits in the Fort Hood area, Key said.

“We feel like the need this year might be greater because of COVID, so we were willing to do whatever we had to do to bring this event to life,” she said.

They hold several events throughout the year, but this is the largest event hands down.

“Honestly, we will sleep really well this weekend, and then we will be ready to start planning for next year,” Key said. “It is definitely a year-round effort. In fact, the vendors all have a contract for next year already … We have a lot of folks who have been here for 10 or 12 years. They come every year.”

Nearly 40 volunteers worked two long days getting the event physically setup at the civic center.

“We started on Thursday morning,” Key said. “We had the tape crew come through, and we taped off and we measured off all the booths. (Friday), we got here basically when the doors opened, and we were home long after dark, and we all got there at 6:45 (Saturday).”

All of this effort is so the club can give back to the community it lives in, according to Brooke Worden, FHSC 2nd Vice President. FHSC does this directly with scholarships and grants, and it also donates to other charities in the Central Texas area, Key said. These include The Humane Society, various veterans’ organizations, and food banks. A complete list is available on the club’s website at www.forthoodspousesclub.org.

The vendors are key to events success as well. Many have participated for years, but Yvonne Richard, and artist from Joshua, Texas, was a first-time participant and brought her hand-made jewelry, pottery and paintings.

“We want to sell out,” Yvonne joked about her goals for the event. “I would like to meet other people that are here and who go to events like this. I haven’t done a lot of events in the past, but I would like to do more in the future.”

The real star of the show every year is Santa Claus. He was excited about the event and wouldn’t even let COVID-19 stop him from coming.

“I think it’s great … now it’s down a little bit in size this year, but in order to give the space you need, you have to have that,” Santa said.

And do we have anything to worry about in December when Christmas actually comes? Not according to Santa.

“It will go great! No problem!” he said.