While Christmas can be a tumultuous time of year, the Gary Sinise Foundation has helped bring a little sparkle during the festive season to those who have lost loved ones during active duty service on 9/11.
According to a press release, the charity has wrapped its five-day event, honouring those who have fallen by providing families with a ‘blend of fun entertainment and inspiring programs’.
The event, which falls under the Snowball Express program, aims to remind families that 'they are not alone during this time of year, and their hero’s selfless sacrifice will never be forgotten’.
In addition to welcoming families to Disney each December, the organisation hosts events all year long so that grieving loved ones can connect with others who have experienced a similar loss.
They wrote: “From baseball games to arts & educational opportunities, to overnight experiences these families can strengthen their community close to where they live.
“These events are essential for children and surviving spouses to develop bonds with the only people who can truly understand their loss: each other.”
According to ABC7, executive director for the Gary Sinise Foundation, Donna Palmer, said she had several teary-eyed mothers who expressed how grateful they were to have their children amongst others who had been through similar trauma.
She added: "That feeling of comfort and connection means so much to them.”
The actor, who is most well known for playing Lieutenant Dan Taylor in Forrest Gump, founded the charity in 2011.
From 2011 - 2021, the organisation raised USD $282 million (AUD $421m or £232m) for defenders, veterans, first responders and their loved ones.
Impressively, the foundation has also built 81 smart homes and 52 adapted vehicles for wounded veterans and served almost one million meals to defenders across the US.
According to the charity’s mission, Sinise wrote: “I believe we can never do enough to express our gratitude and give support to the men and women who willingly go into harm’s way to keep us safe and free, but we can always do a little more.
“While our programs and projects have certainly made a difference in many lives, there’s much more work to be done.”Featured Image Credit: Gary Sinise Foundation