Texas A&M’s Maroon Santa Program Returns To Help Veteran Families
The annual Maroon Santa event returned this year to help families of student veterans at Texas A&M University through the fulfillment of wish lists submitted by veteran parents.
The event started in 2017 as a collaboration between the Texas A&M College Republicans, Texas Aggie Democrats and Aggie Libertarians when David Isenhour, Jr. ’18 wanted to bring a little of his family’s traditions to fellow Aggies. After speaking with Karen Allen, a former counselor in Military Admissions, Isenhour decided the event should honor Aggie veterans and their families.
In its first year, Maroon Santa served fewer than 10 families. Four years later, the event has significantly grown, developing into an official program within the Don & Ellie Knauss Veteran Resource & Support Center. This year the program served 18 families, with Santa surprising nearly 40 children with items from their holiday wish lists. Isenhour attended at this year’s event, volunteering and beaming with pride and humility at how much it has progressed.
“I am happy to see Maroon Santa continue as a yearly tradition which honors our student veterans and their families for their selfless service,” Isenhour said. “My deepest thanks goes out to the generous donors and volunteers who continue to make this event possible.”
Events and programs like Maroon Santa are a significant factor in student veteran success. Nearly 50% of student veterans have families and providing opportunities for those families to engage with the university and with each other increase a student veteran’s mental and emotional wellness, grow their campus community support system, and foster a sense of belonging for both the student veteran and their family.
“Maroon Santa is a great program that creates opportunities to connect with our student veterans on a very personal level and opens other avenues of engagement and support,” said VRSC Director Col. Gerald Smith ’82, USMC (Ret.)
Isenhour’s parents, Denise and David Isenhour, recently made a $25,000 initial endowment to sustain the Maroon Santa program through the VRSC. This endowment will ensure that the program and their family’s tradition and legacy of selfless service will live on for generations.
“We hope to see Maroon Santa serve more Texas A&M Veteran families in the future,” they said. “Celebrating and serving our veteran students and their families is such a blessing to our family. We are honored to be able to support our veterans and their families in this small way. It is impossible to ever repay them for their service and sacrifice to our county and citizens. In the future, we would love to see Maroon Santa able to give more to the entire family as the endowment grows.”
For information on supporting Maroon Santa or other veterans programs at Texas A&M, please contact Lt. Col. Dave Fujimoto ’17, USAF, Ret. at the Texas A&M Foundation.