MCAGCC, Twentynine Palms, Calif. -- The Marine Corps Communication and Electronics School is known around the Combat Center as a large contributor to the Marine Corps Reservist Toys for Tots program during the Christmas holiday season, but this year two MCCES individuals volunteered themselves to help out a holiday early.
Lance Cpls. Erica Davis Natalie Jones of Headquarters Company, MCCES, jumped at the chance to gather canned goods for Thanksgiving baskets. The baskets were sent out to members of the Combat Center as well as the cities of Twentynine Palms and Joshua Tree.
"I've received a basket before, and I was appreciative of it," said single mother, Davis. "So I wanted to return the favor."
"I did it to provide something back to the community and to do something with the Marine Corps for the community," said Jones. "I live in the barracks and thought I might as well do something productive with my time."
In the beginning, when the two Marines set up multiple collection boxes at the MCCES headquarters building and outside the commissary, daycare and Condor Elementary School, they weren't getting many donations, so they got creative.
"I started making flyers and putting them under people's office doors at MCCES, to make them feel guilty," explained Jones. "The next day 50 to 60 cans were on my desk."
Davis tried a one-on-one tactic with fellow Marines.
"It's so cheap to buy a can," said Davis. "I started telling people, just don't buy that candy bar or soda from the soda mess today, instead buy a can."
The Combat Center-wide collection raised more than 750 cans for 150 Thanksgiving baskets in three weeks. The volunteers plan on starting the drive earlier next Thanksgiving holiday and are already brainstorming more creative ways to collect more cans.
The two Marines aren't stopping their self-imposed charity program at the end of the holiday season, but have decided to continue providing assistance throughout the year in Adopt-a-School programs and other such community volunteering opportunities.
"Knowing that I've helped somebody by just taking an hour out of my day is why I volunteer," said Davis.