WHITING | Christmas hit home for 99 Great Lakes Naval Base recruits last week as they were treated to a home style dinner and a social gathering at Whiting Elks Lodge 1273.
The lodge has been hosting Christmas for the U.S. Navy recruits since 2008 and each year raises the necessary funds from local community leaders, businesses and organizations to offer the young sailors a taste of home.
“This event is so rewarding in so many ways,” said Helen Chapman, Whiting Elks Lodge member and event coordinator. “It’s about opening our hearts to the true meaning of Christmas. These kids are in training and don’t get to call home, and we are just so glad to give them a feeling of comfort.”
More than 50 volunteers shared this year’s experience as they served meals and even offered up their cell phones so that the recruits could call their families. The Whiting Public Library donated 16 laptops to help set up stations where recruits could even SKYPE home to their loved ones.
“There wasn’t a dry eye in the place,” said Chapman. “I say I won’t cry every year, but you can’t keep it together when you see the excitement and the humility of these heroes that are preparing to defend our country with their service.”
Among this year’s guests and volunteers were Whiting Mayor Joe Stahura, Highland Elks Lodge and South Bend Elks Lodge members, East Side Vietnam Vets members and Whiting Masonic Lodge members.
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