Semper Fidelis: “Always Faithful”
For the past few years, we have been blessed to take part in our neighbors Family Thanksgiving celebration.
What makes their gathering super special is that they welcome Marines into their home for the day. Because many of the young Marines are not able to travel to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with their families, a home cooked Thanksgiving dinner brightens their holiday spirits and makes them aware of our appreciation of their service to our country. The experience is rewarding for all involved.
Our neighbors leave at O’Dark Hundred Thanksgiving morning to make the drive down to Camp Pendleton in San Onofre to pick up the Marines. In collaboration with the School of Infantry Command, School of Infantry Marine students are allowed approximately eight hours of liberty to enjoy the holiday, and unless the Marine’s family is within a 90 mile radius of the School of Infantry, their training schedule does not allot enough travel time to be with family.
When the Marines arrive we gather, pack up the whole crew and walk down to our local park for some flag football.
Everyone gets involved- the kids, parents, aunts, uncles, friends, neighbors and grandparents!
We all enjoy spending a morning involved in the All- American Game that unites us a one with a bit of competitive spirit!
Thanksgiving dinner is enjoyed at all our homes and then we head back over to the neighbors for some pumpkin pie, NFL Football and a lil gift giving. The soldiers have since changed from their football gear into full uniform for dinner. Every year our family fills a large stocking full of goodies for each Marine. These Marine Corps have just graduated from boot camp, so we are happy to provide them a lil “take home gift ” for the holidays…of course the kids always add a teddy bear (their trademark).
More than 1300 young Marines will spend Thanksgiving with more than 450 families throughout San Diego, Orange and Riverside counties. Every year, the Armed Services YMCA at Camp Pendleton asks for volunteer families to sponsor a Marine for Thanksgiving dinner as part of its Home Hospitality Program. This past year, lots of families said they wanted to feed up to a dozen Marines in their homes for the Annual Home Hospitality Program, leaving dozens of families on a waiting list for next year’s program.
If you are interested in hosting Marines for Thanksgiving dinner, please contact your local branch of the Armed Services YMCA. They generally have more community members to host than there are Marines to place so please don’t wait to call their office the week of Thanksgiving…all the Marine students will most likely be placed by then!
If you want to help in other ways; how about organizing a sort of impromptu food drive, provide food cards for military families, or maybe just drop off a Turkey or two for families on base. For more information on how to give back, contact Armed Services YMCA at Camp Pendleton at 760-385-4921.
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”John Fitzgerald Kennedy