PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There is a mission underway to save one of the region’s largest holiday events for military kids and their families.

Operation Santa is a massive charity drive that is part of the Heroes Supporting Heroes network.

There is nothing like opening that first gift on Christmas morning. And when a parent is deployed or no longer here, the joy is even more important. Operation Santa understands that.

But with no space and little funding, the kids themselves are on the front lines trying to save the annual holiday carnival.

(Photo Credit: Ten Four Social)

“It’s so nice to see them so excited,” said Kennady Martindale. “When they can’t celebrate with their families, they can celebrate with other kids.”

The event is set up by 3 Rivers Wealth Management and the Bridges Kids Club and it serves nearly 2,000 kids and families.

Senior Master Sergeant Marshall Martindale and his family participate each year.

“It’s sad actually because it’s a wonderful event,” Martindale said.

The event also supports children impacted by suicide.

“It impacts our families in Pittsburgh a lot, a lot more than the general public understands or realizes,” said Kristi Hilbert, CEO of Heroes Supporting Heros. “So this event provides support for those families on Christmas morning.”

But if they don’t get the support they need, this is one operation that will have to be abandoned.

“Our military kids serve, too,” Hilbert said. “And they don’t get recognition for it, and this really is a day thanking them and letting them feel that.”

The GoFundMe for Operation Santa can be found here.