Fort Carson soldiers completed Operation Happy Holidays Tuesday morning, leaving hundreds of people in need in Colorado Springs with food, toys and clothes.
The soldiers carried 2,400 pounds of donated items in their rucksacks from Colorado Springs' Dorchester Park up Tejon Street to the Marian House. The 850 soldiers that participated piled tables in the Marian House's parking lot with donated items. Then, people in need sifted through the items and walked away with bags fulls of warm clothes and gifts for the holidays.
Operation Happy Holidays hits extra close to home for Spc. Billy McClure.
"I had a rough childhood, too and I know what it's like," said McClure. "To me it's absolutely amazing to do something like this."
McClure packed his rucksack with food and toys. He didn't always have presents under the tree growing up. He wants to make sure children at Tuesday's event remember a different Christmas.
"I'm in the Army now and I am able to do stuff like this. It means a lot to me to do this for them," said McClure.
Roger Price served 22 years in the Marine Corps. He said tough times landed him on the street. He said he is off the street now, and he has a renewed sense of hope thanks to men and women in uniform.
"It just goes to show the heart the military does have. It's not all combat, it's not all hard stuff, they do have a heart and they do care about people," said Price.
It's the fourth year of the event. Last year's Operation Happy Holidays helped 1,600. Catholic Charities expects that number to be even higher this year because more soldiers participated.
All left over donations were dispersed between various Catholic Charities programs and outreach programs so the remaining items could be distributed to more people in need.