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The holiday season is in full-swing and with it comes many of the traditional activities and events that we have become accustomed to over the years. Whether it is decorating the home, sending out Christmas cards, or baking cookies, I would ask that you make time during the holidays and spend it with family, friends or loved ones. This is the season of giving, and what better gift is the gift of spending it with those you love and care for. If your plans call for staying at home during the holidays, I would encourage you to volunteer in the community. There are numerous organizations in the South Sound and Puget Sound looking for volunteers to help those less fortunate.
Speaking of giving back to the community, in October the Combined Federal Campaign Kick-Off Ceremony was held at Carey Theater. Last year the CFC collected pledges totaling more than $1.3 million, the second largest in Joint Base Lewis-McChords history. I am confident that we will surpass last years contribution and make 2012 a great success. Donations to the campaign are directed toward various charities, and a lot of them impact us here at JBLM. Fisher House, which provides a home away from home to families of local military medical patients, is among those that benefit from the campaign, as well as other organizations such as the Red Cross, the American Cancer Society, the United Service Organization and many others. So please consider contributing; your gift can make a difference in the lives of those who need our support.
I would be remiss if I didnt take this opportunity to thank our Santas Castle organizers and volunteers especially Kristina Bellamy-McClain, Krista Kamper, Anita Vargo, Mariah Mazerski, Jennifer Schnoebelen, Tina Robbings, Lisa Bennett, Alice Richard, and Shelly Hinzman. This season, through their hard work and the tremendous efforts of the various clubs, individuals, groups, military units, small businesses, civic organizations, and corporations, over $40,000 in gifts and cash donations were donated to support more than 800 military families.
What makes JBLM such a special place to serve is the tremendous community outside our gates. I want to say thank you to the citizens of the South Sound who do so much to enrich the lives of our Soldiers, Airmen and their families. I want to personally thank the Association of the United States Armys Captain Meriwether Lewis Chapter, the Pierce Military Business Alliance, The Old Cannery Furniture Warehouse, Harborstone Credit Union, Dennys Valley Autobody, Cobalt Mortgage, Americas Credit Union, American Lake Credit Union, DaVita, Northwest Harley-Davidson, and Heritage Bank for their support of this years Operation Turkey Drop. Last month, more than 300 turkeys were delivered to units on base and provided to our military families for Thanksgiving. This is just one of the many examples of the strength of our community. It is truly amazing. Thank you!
The holiday season always brings entertainment and activities for all ages to enjoy. I would encourage everyone to take advantage of the many activities and events that the South Sound and Puget Sound communities have to offer. A listing of these activities can be found in the Out & About section of the Northwest Guardian newspaper as well as on the JBLMs Morale, Welfare and Recreation website at www.jblmmwr.com. So, dont stay home during the holidays. Get out and experience Washington!
In closing, Patti and I would like to wish the entire JBLM Team a safe and joyful holiday and a happy New Year. Please take the time to spend with loved ones and friends and keep our Soldiers and Airmen who are currently deployed in your prayers. The holidays can be a wonderful time of happiness, but for some it can be a difficult period filled with loneliness and sorrow. If you can, open up your heart and home to a family member whose spouse is deployed or a single Soldier who is unable to be home for the holidays. May the New Year bring you all good health, joy, and happiness!