MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Thanksgiving and Christmas are two holidays that bring families together. These can also be lonely times for those who are alone or are unable to go home. Whether it’s not enough leave, duty responsibilities, or just not having anywhere to go, it happens to Marines and Sailors every year.
The Single Marine Program offers a solution by giving these service members the opportunity to visit civilian and military families who want to host them for the holidays through the Adopt-a-Marine Program.
“It is an excellent opportunity for [service members] to get off the base and for them to mingle with our community,” said Heather Fiske, SMP coordinator.
Fiske is very passionate about the program and wants service members to understand the importance of the program.
“We know [service members] are here during the holidays,” said Fiske. “A lot of them are by themselves. The object is to get them off the base.”
Families and companies from Twentynine Palms to Palm Springs and all the communities in between sign up to invite service members into their home, feed them, and thank them for their service.
Fiske says, many service members are hesitant to participate in the program because they don’t want to go alone. Most families are inviting two to eight service members, so they won’t go out by themselves, and in most cases, the families actually come to the base to pick up the service members.
Most service members who participate come in with a friend. After filling out a form, they get to see the forms submitted by the families and decide which family they would like to spend the holiday with.
In 2004, over 30 families signed up to adopt a service member, but only about 15 to 20 service members signed up to be adopted. Fiske wants more Marines to sign up this year.
“I know there were more [service members] here [during the holidays],” said Fiske. “I want them to take advantage of the hospitality of the community.”
Two companies have already signed up to adopt service members. They are Toyota Motor Sales in La Quinta and the Chaparral Country Club in Palm Desert.
“We are very excited about them coming,” said Ann-Marie Bobay, Toyota Motor Sales. “It’s a very important part of our Thanksgiving celebration and are glad to be able to invite them to celebrate with us. They are treated like celebrities.”
Service members interested in getting adopted for the holidays may pick up a form at The Zone or through a SMP representative in their unit. The deadline for Thanksgiving is Nov. 21 and for Christmas is Dec. 20.
Service members are allowed to wear casual attire, nice jeans and a polo shirt, when they go to the family’s house. Very few families ask for them to come in uniform.
“Just one of the many benefits of this program is that the [service members] are getting a wonderful meal made by a family in our community that is here supporting all of our Marines,” said Fiske.