JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. –- Rain did not damper the holiday spirit of service members, families and comrades of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, I Corps, as they marched to Santa’s Castle on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., to donate more than 200 toys to families in need, Nov. 23.
“This is an easy way to have a unit get involved and even though it’s raining and it’s cold it is still fun,” said Linda E. Evans, president of Santa’s Castle after receiving the toys. “These donations are going to help out children who maybe wouldn’t have gifts. It means so much that people are willing to give their time and themselves to do something like this for others.”
The group of approximately 100 people joined together in celebration of holiday cohesion and generosity to provide presents for the families of less fortunate service members on JBLM.
“It gave us the sense of coming together to focus on one main goal. I think that it really helped us show our support for each other,” said Goldsboro, N.C., native Spc. Amos Artis the unit armor for HHC, I Corps. “Giving is a great way to start the holidays.”
Antlers, festive hats and red and green glow sticks set the scene for holiday joy as the crowd marched behind Santa to the sound of carols and the promise of hot cocoa.
“I think that it all signified the motivation for holiday spirit. A lot of us have gotten older and do different things for the holidays but in that moment it brought back positive memories and acknowledged the inspiration to give,” added Artis.
Event organizer, Sgt. 1st Class Stephen J. Canonico, native of West Haven, Conn., rear-detachment first sergeant for HHC, I Corps, felt it was essential for his company to show support for the Army family during the holiday season.
“We don’t want people to think that they are forgotten and that’s why this is so important,” said Canonico. “Some of them are embarrassed to come forward about their financial situations because of pride, so I think that it is important to show that they can depend on their comrades to help.”
The march offered gifts to children of more than 100 military families that were recommended for support by their leadership and approved through Santa’s Castle.
“A toy, or a gift, doesn’t represent the Christmas spirit, it’s the giving of the time and giving back to others who don’t have as much,” said Evans. “The spirit of Christmas is all about giving and if a toy is included in that then that’s great but it’s the feeling you have inside that makes the biggest difference.”