Dr. Bill Atwood

Ho ho ho Semper Fi

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. In fewer than six weeks it will be Christmas Day and all of the preparations and decorating will have caused us to work harder as well as to sit back and enjoy the festivities of the holiday season.

During the next six weeks we will have done our shopping, bought our trees, strung the lights and wrapped the packages. We will have sat through several school plays and spent hours in front of the television enjoying Christmas specials along with reruns of Ralphie in his pink Bunny Suit and George Bailey meeting up with Clarence. Church attendance will increase and we will be wishing each other glad tidings for the season.

Chanukah will be celebrated as will Kwanza and we will draw closer to our families and friends because we want to be around those we love. Children will rush to open the gifts under the tree and the glee they express will be enjoyed by the older generations sitting on the chairs and couches watching the unbridled avarice unfold.

However; in some homes the story might be different than the Norman Rockwell holiday I just described due to circumstances beyond the control of the affected families and certainly beyond the control of the children.

Some families are hurting this year because the casino has closed and 1300 jobs gone in a blink of an eye. Other families are not able to be in their homes because of the recent fires. The irony of driving through the affected areas and seeing chimney’s standing waiting for Santa but no home for the family can’t be ignored.

We can see this as a bleak and sad time or we can see it as a time to shine. The good news is that there are Elves in the area and they are ready to act. The local Marine Corps League is in operational mode for the annual Toys for Tots campaign and that is where you and I come in.

We simply purchase a toy for a boy or girl that we don’t know, drop that toy off into one of the many Toys for Tots cardboard boxes and then those wonderful Marine Corps Reservists, dressed appropriately in red, work with the local schools and help Santa out by delivering those new items to local kids. Every dollar donated and every single toy donated here stays in this community. We have the Marine Corps League’s word on that and that is a good enough guarantee to me.

It is a great deal. You don’t need to wrap the gift because the Marines ask that we don’t wrap the gift. We can simply write them a check and the Marines have a great relationship with the stores so the money even goes further than if we just buy the item ourselves. Last year hundreds of local kids would have been disappointed on Christmas Day because there wasn’t a toy for them. Had it not been for this community of elf helpers assisting those burly Marines who serve as Santa’s elves the holiday would have been one of sorrow. Instead we all did our parts to support the Marine Corps League.

In the next few days do that shopping for the toy and drop it off. Write a check if you wish or do what I do; both. I like dropping a gift into the container and I like handing over a check as well.

Looking at what the season is all about this campaign is a perfect fit. When Toys for Tots first began in the late 1940’s following the end of WWII the Los Angeles Marine Reservists had little idea that it would turn into a national program. My dad happened to be a part of that reservist unit so my brother and I grew up understanding the idea of giving to those less fortunate.

Last year more than $50,000.00 worth of toys were gifted to local children. For $50,000.00 the people of this community made sure that children they don’t know had a good holiday. The Marines did so much for us during their active duty service and now after leaving the military life they still are in service.

We can help as individuals or through our clubs and houses of worship. My car club gave up the idea of exchanging silly gifts with one another at the annual Christmas party and embraced the idea of helping out the Marines. We all feel better about that decision and so will you.

I don’t know if Santa has a Marine Corps uniform in his closet at the North Pole but I do know Santa has the Marine Corps League in his corner.

Ho, Ho, Ho and Semper Fi!