FAIRMONT - The calendar is just approaching November but Martin County's "Beyond the Yellow Ribbon" group is already planning how to make it a good Christmas for area military personnel serving overseas, and for their families here at home.
Step one is "Operation: Christmas Connection." On Nov. 5, military families will be at the Fairmont Armory to record Christmas greetings to be sent to their loved ones.
"We're excited about this because we've had such a high number preregister," said Tam Plumhoff of Beyond the Yellow Ribbon. "Most times, we don't have this big a response early on, but so far we have 19 families registered that contains about 70 people. Because this is open to extended family members as well, we have one family that has 11 people signed up."
Plumhoff says they will not turn anyone away.
"We wanted a number for preregistration to see how much food was needed, plus we're setting up crafts and games, hayrides," she said. "The event starts at 9 a.m., but we need things for people to do while they wait."
There will be a special visitor to get the families in the holiday mood.
"We will be having kids write letters to Santa, and Santa will be there to have lunch with everyone, even though it's a little early for him," Plumhoff said.
Perhaps Santa is just doing research?
"Our next event is the Christmas social," said Chuck Mixson, another Beyond the Yellow Ribbon organizer. "In the next few days, there will be a coupon in the Sentinel for the opportunity to sponsor a child, and they can donate up to $40 dollars for a gift. Those letters to Santa are what those gifts are being based off of. We'll be trying to match those letters, since there's about 90 children."
"Operation: Christmas Connection" begins 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, at the Armory. For more information, call Plumhoff at (507) 238-2806.