Union West Rotary and members of the community purchase 1,100 Christmas Stockings and fill them with wonderful gifts to be delivered by Mrs. Claus, who looks a lot like our very own Robin Barron-Golobish, to the Marines on Camp Lejeune on Friday, December 17, and Cherry Point on Saturday, December 18.

We’ve asked friends to take a stocking and fill it with goodies, decorate it, and put a card in it. The stocking will be given to the Marines and Sailors who are unable to go home for the holiday season and bring good cheer and joy from Union County! We gave a list of suggestions of what can go in the stocking. Some friends made a monetary donation or items toward filling a stocking. We are collecting items early to let them set in isolation for 2 weeks prior to delivery due to the pandemic. The second part of this event is in partnership with the Chaplain. We are giving $10 gift cards to Walmart to those special Marines who are introduced to Mrs. Claus by the Chaplain because of a special need… be it the young Marine is homesick, having a difficult time, or whatever the situation is… we don’t need to know but will provide that young man or woman something a little extra special.

This is the fourth year we are hosting the event.  The original plan was to ship the stockings to New Jersey, part of the National Funeral Directors Association but missed the deadline. We had 100 empty stockings and wanted to do something with them. We called around to various organizations, but there were a lot of restrictions as to who can get what. So, we reached out to a friend, John, a retired Marine who works on base at Camp Lejeune and he said that he can get the stockings to the chaplain and get them to the ‘Junior Marines’ who can’t or don’t want to go home for Christmas. We filled the stockings with items such as socks, stress balls, candy, deck of cards… just to name a few items. Two days prior to the delivery, John challenged us for 200 more!  We hit that target and then some!

Each year the coordination on base was more efficient due to the cooperation of Chaplains Anthony Albertini at Chow Hall ‘L’ and Col. Hallett. The second year, we gave out 400, and our third year over 600.  There are different parts to the ‘Meet and greet with Mrs. Claus’ who personally gives each Marine their gift… last year we were staged at the 10th Marine Regiment Fiddler’s Green Hall where approximately 500 Marines and Sailors were lined up outside and came in small groups (thanks to Covid), got their stocking, and had a special breakfast.  Afterward, we went to Chow Hall “L” where we were greeted by The Grinch (Anthony Albertini dressed up) and gave away another 100 stockings (we ran out of stockings but still had supplies, so we improvised and filled the pockets of their cargo pants, hats, and brown bags.  The last stop was visiting the children at the elementary school on base.  Anthony Albertini recognized the logo on a card sticking out of a stocking (Rotary emblem) and said that his grandfather was a Rotarian and helped with the monument in Wilmington, NC.

2021 proves to be even more exciting because we will have the same plans as we had last year and will be spreading even more holiday cheer at Cherry Point!  We are well on our way to providing 1,100 stockings this year with the additional support of Indian Trail United Methodist Church, VFW Post 2423, and many other businesses and families.

We put a card in each stocking wishing them a Merry Christmas and on the backside, the four-way test.  Donations may be made payable to Union West Rotary and in the memo line “Stockings” P.O. Box 203, Indian Trail, NC 28079.

Wonderful Short Videos of the Event and Thank You Responses: