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    Cape May offers recruits an escape from boot camp

    Cape May offers recruits an escape from boot camp

    Photo By Seaman Apprentice Josalyn Brown | CAPE MAY, N.J. - All recruits at Training Center Cape May leave with civilian families...... read more read more

    In Cape May, N.J., the local community has supported Training Center Cape May through the American Red Cross Operation Fireside program since 1981.

    Cape May has played an active role with the Coast Guard since 1924, however, over the past 38 years, every Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Coast Guard and Cape May community have come together to help the recruits here feel at home. This year more than 100 local families opened their homes to more than 350 recruits in training who are here for the holidays and cannot be with their loved ones. Operation Fireside has made it possible for recruits to create long-lasting bonds that will be carried out through their careers.

    The community surrounding Training Center Cape May has been actively participating in Coast Guard events for many years. For some families here in Cape May, being a member of the Coast Guard community has been a part of their lifestyle since they were little. Others have just started volunteering.

    Donna McGonagle moved to the Cape May area a little more than two years ago and has volunteered to host the recruits over the last two years.

    “I don’t have a whole lot of family with me here so, the more the merrier,” said McGonagle.

    Operation Fireside is one of many ways the community chooses to give support to the training center.

    The U.S. Coast Guard’s eight-week-long program is meant to challenge the recruits to the best of their abilities. These recruits must be on their A-game every day since training adds a great deal of mental, physical, and emotional stress.

    Operation Fireside allows recruits to unwind for a day and be able to enjoy their holidays with delicious food, good company, and time to relax.

    Frank and Lorie DeFeo have been hosting recruits for seven years.

    “It gives back a little humanity to life,” said Frank DeFeo as he spoke of why they decided to volunteer.

    Many families have stayed in contact with the recruits they welcomed into their homes during the holidays for years.

    Not only are the recruits grateful for the kindness of these families for allowing them into their homes, but the families of the recruits have shown great appreciation for these locals who have given their loved ones a good holiday experience even if they can’t be with them.

    In past events, some of the local families received gifts from the loved ones of the recruits or the recruits themselves to say thank you for a place to stay and a bond that cannot be broken.



    Date Taken: 11.28.2019
    Date Posted: 11.28.2019 12:22
    Story ID: 353880
    Location: US

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