Friday evening local veterans gathered with their families at Heritage Hall for Operation Never Alone. Everyone present received a free meal, and every child went home with a Christmas present.
The event was organized by the Texoma Veterans Alliance and co-founder Todd Larkin, a veteran himself, said he hopes to see it grow in the future.
“I think we ended up with around 40 or 50 people,” Larkin said. “It’s just a great opportunity for us to be together.” Larkin said this is especially important around holidays and that events like Operation Never Alone allow veterans to relax and enjoy the camaraderie.
“I’ve got some good friends that don’t have anybody,” Larkin said. “Their ex-wife and kids live in a different state, so they just sit at home. Then depression sinks in.”
“For a lot of vets this is the only time that they can really be themselves,” Larkin said. “You’re in a room full of vets, so you’re comfortable.”
Larkin said that seeing the community come together to support the event has been amazing and that numerous local businesses, organizations and individuals all pitched in.
“That’s what our group is all about too, finding ways to serve the community and give back,” Larkin said. Dozens of toys were donated for the event.
 “All the kids get to pick a toy. We’ll have toys left over, so we’ll donate those to the Children’s Shelter,” Larkin said. “We’ve got more than we need, so why not give it to another group that needs it?”
He said opportunities to serve the community are important to veterans and help them return to civilian life after serving in the military.
“We always had a job to do,” Larkin said. “So when we come home there’s kind of this void. What do we do now? We’ve served our country and want to come home and continue to serve.”
To continue with this service, Larkin said Texoma Veterans is working on a plan for a park clean up project in the spring.