I have been involved in this project for two years now, and gearing up for my third. I am thrilled to know the amount of community support in sending care packages to our heroes serving on foreign soil. I am honored to be a part of it!
I began volunteering for Operation Santa when my son was serving tours in Iraq. He is home now, but I continue to volunteer by making "Santa Socks" and filling them for whatever platoon I am assigned. I am but one tiny cog in a much larger volunteer effort but I feel that making the "Santa Socks" by hand I can personally shake the hand of each Marine who receives one. It is my personal thank you to them and although we have not met I respect and value their service!
I started doing "Operation Santa" last season. It was such a wonderful experience and it was truly amazing to see the number of community members get involved. The Marine Corps Family Foundation does an excellent job with setting up programs that show the Marines and their families that we have and will never forget them! OOH-RAH!
Marine Corps Family Foundation has some wonderful programs. My favorite is Operation Santa. I started in 2005, and it has been a fantastic experience each year. The number of stockings and Marines we cover has grown, as friends have stepped in to help. (My friends bake so many cookies, that one year, we got a thank you note from an Army Unit that the Marines shared their cookies with!) I love the opportunity to give back, and work on gathering the supplies throughout the year... Christmas and the Marines are a constant presence. And most important, while I know the Marines appreciate the goodies and Christmas, I truly believe I get far more back from participating! MCM has made this easy to do, and a joy throughout the year.
I am proud of making things for Marine Corps Kids. It is a way for me to make at least a modest attempt to try and give back to our brave heros and their families. In a way, I feel I am sharing in a happy moment in their lives. The projects that the other volunteers make give me additional inspiration. In war and in peace, the Marines have being doing their Toys for Tots program for those in need. All in all, making things for their kids is truly a priviledge.
This is an AWESOME organization with HUGE impact for our dedicated soldiers! We've been doing this for about 7 years & each year we are SO GLAD that we do!!! Just got a great Thank You note from the Sgt. of the platoon of 30 Marines that we sent over 400 lbs of Christmas to! SO heartwarming, that it makes us cry! The helicopter unit shared some of what we'd sent with other smaller bases that don't receive much and they were all very grateful. We sew stockings, pillowcases, and spend time gathering an assortment of survival items, fun stuff & food, healthy snacks, etc and include phone cards for them to call home for the holidays, Christmas cards for each. It is definately a cause worth supporting in any way that you can!!! Christmas is so much more SPECIAL & MEANINGFUL, since we have been doing this with the help of others.
Each year in the fall, a new Division of Marines are deployed out of Camp Pendleton, California. These are young men as young as 19 years old, strong, determined, dedicated volunteers with a purpose. They are the epitome of those same young men that joined the Marine Corps after the attack on Pearl Harbor and although they have heard stories of how Vietnam era veterans were treated upon their return, that did not stop them from going to Iraq or Afghanistan. Over and over you hear their reason for going, "for my country, to fight there so they don't come here and hurt my family." This is why we volunteer for Operation Santa. To provide these Marines a reminder that we haven't forgotten them, and to send them a little bit of Christmas from home. We provide a few creature comforts, like Hand and Toe Warmers for those frigid nights while on patrol, where they have to keep their hands on their weapons in case of an attack. Batteries for their electronics what little they have, there is no PX at the Forward Operating Base, in the remote mountains of Afghanistan to buy new ones when theirs run out. Toothpaste, deodorant, baby wipes is what they use to wash up while in the field and again they have to hope they have enough to last until they go to the rear. In addition to this we send Pillowcases, they don't have pillows, but they use them to store their dirty clothes and use them as a pillow. Lip balm for chapped lips from the cold winds that whip down from the mountains, and Emergen-C vitamin supplement powder they can add to their bottled water to help maintain their immune system that is taxed from sleep deprivation and the sheer exercise of carrying their weapons, ammunition, and protective gear sometimes over 100 pounds while climbing steep hill and mountainsides. Packets of Hot Chocolate or coffee, and a granola bar for them to consume during their few and far between down time. So what is a little fundraising and time spent packing a gallon storage bag filled with a home-made Christmas stocking, a hand made Christmas card from the local elementary school or Girl Scout troop, wishing the Marines, a safe and Merry Christmas, with the above mentioned items compared to what these men and women are doing for us. This is why we volunteer, to give each and every Marine and Sailor a little bit of home. Connie Riecke, the director of the Marine Corps Family foundation, tirelessly works to help each and every one of us Coordinators ensure these Marines get Christmas stockings. She advises with fundraising ideas and acts as a troubleshooter if there is a problem with the vendor. We have been active with the Marine Corps Family Foundation, Operation Santa program since 2007 when our two sons were deployed to Iraq at the same time. They both have since gotten out of the Marine Corps, but we are committed to supporting those that have taken their place in the theater, and we hope to continue to do so for many years to come.