GROTON, Conn. (WTNH) — Operation Homefront was in Groton on Thursday on a very special military mission.

The national non-profit’s Holiday Meals for Military program hosted families from the submarine base to brighten up the holiday. The group has been coming to Groton for more than a decade.

Families were given a gift cards for holiday meal kids.

“Sometimes, it’s hard to have your mom or your dad out to sea and we just do this, a little little bit more Christmas cheer,” said Shealyn Bannon, a volunteer whose father is a submariner.

About 26% of military families are facing financial hardship, according to Joe O’Hara, the area director for Operation Homefront.

“These service members are here for our country in its time of need, so we want to be there for them in their time of need, ”O’Hara said.

Alexis Sablan’s husband is in Hawaii. She said she was appreciative for the event.

“This is actually a great opportunity to get neighbors together, and be able to pick up a meal and take it home, and share it with other people, as well,” she said.

Santa and Mrs. Claus also gave out gifts to the kids, along with a promise he would come to their house next month.

“It’s kind of emotional,” said Johnna Taylor, the senior vice president chief credit officer at Dime Bank, which was the corporate sponsor for the event.

She lived in Navy housing in Groton as a child, and was glad to be back Thursday.

“This is so much fun,” said Taylor. “It’s actually an honor.”

The event helped 200 military families in the Groton area. Operation Homefront was also in town with its backpack brigade back in August.

Veteran Wayne Adams and wife said Operation Homefront has helped them beyond the holidays.

“We actually got a roof and siding,” Adams said.

Thursday, they were happy to get a gift for their grandson.