PHOENIX - When it comes to the spirit of giving, the Military Assistance Mission might be second only to Santa this time of year.
As we gear up for Operation Santa Claus, this Valley charity specializes in spreading smiles to those who sacrifice their lives for our freedoms.
It might not be the North Pole, but here at MAM, they sure know how to stock their north Phoenix warehouse.
"That's about the time we'll call in the volunteers to separate out; you've got the boys and the girls section," describes Conrad Schulte, who's been helping out here for the last few years.
He's seen what it means to someone in need -- the simple gesture of a helping hand, especially around the holidays.
"It's knowing that somebody's out there to help you when you stub your toe and you're stumbling," says Schulte.
Conrad's motivation comes from the heart and soul of MAM, and that's Margy Bons.
"It's just a way to give back. A way to say thanks and Margy's done a great job at that," says Schulte.
MAM is Margy's labor of love to honor her son, Michael A. Marzano, who died in Iraq.
"It's so great because you'll hear one of them go 'oh yeah I was here last year or I was here two years ago and this is how you do it,' and they're teaching the other newer kids. It's just wonderful," says Bons. "There are days where I do sit and cry because I miss him, after all I'm his mom. But there are days when I go, 'oh Michael, look at what we've done.'"
What MAM has done over seven years is no small feat: thousands of children get to know what it's like to be loved, as their loved ones sacrifice so much.
Conrad Schulte should know: after serving three tours in Afghanistan, he and his little boy felt Margy's generosity first hand.
"Having a room, a gymnasium full of toys, at the time he was 6, so a 6-year-old doing that, it was crazy. He loved it. He loved every minute of it," says Schulte.