Being far from home in a hospital over the Holidays is no fun.
We were grateful to once again have the opportunity to bring some “Holiday Cheer” to recovering Marines at the hospital.
On December 7, 2016Marine Moms-Bethesda delivered gifts and cards to the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Battalion-East Detachment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. This was our 10th year bringing cheer to patients!
The holidays are right around the corner and it’s time to plan for “Holiday Cheer 2014”!
We’ll be serving out-patients at Walter Reed during this luncheon. They live on their own or with their caregivers in dorm-like rooms. Many are young, single, and do not have family living with them.
Not all are “combat wounded”, however they are at Walter Reed-Bethesda for medical reasons during active duty service. Our Holiday Cheer event and bi-monthly luncheons are a HUGE morale booster for them!
The event consists of a holiday meal, Christmas stockings, handwritten holiday and Christmas cards from across the USA, cookies baked by our local “Elfs” AND a whoooole lotta CHEER!
“Holiday Cheer 2014” will be on December 4th, 2014. Location: USO. Serving Time: 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM This event will be limited to 25 wounded, injured, or ill service members and their family members, first come, first served.
Would you like to be a Marine Moms-Bethesda Elf? Sponsor a stocking or send cards! Here’s how!
It’s hard to believe this will be the seventh year we’ve brought “Holiday Cheer” to Walter Reed/Bethesda! It’s actually the eighth holiday event if we count when Janelle, Brenda, and I were there in November 2005. 3/1 Marines we or our sons knew were patients on the overflowing combat surgical ward after being wounded in combat.
December 5, “Holiday Cheer at Mercy Hall 2013” Luncheon
A Holiday Meal, Stockings, Cards, and Cookies, with “Elfs” providing support from all over the country made for a Very Merry Day at Mercy Hall!
Gladys and Bob, always early, were there and unloaded when Guy and I arrived around 10:15, with Katie right behind us bringing in adorable gingerbread houses from the Calvert County Hospice’s Festival of Trees Gingerbread House contest. Ace and the Sailors set up the two buffet tables and Jaime from “Touch of Relief” arrived shortly after to offer free seated massages to our guests. We missed having Jess with us. She’s being kept busy by “The Littlest Elf”, her darlin’ new Wee One. Jess sent the stockings with Bob she and her “Elfs” put together, made possible by individual sponsors and local organizations.
We covered the tables and started the chafing dishes, then began setting out the food and “niftie-gifties”.
The “Holiday Cheer” luncheon was quieter this year than in past years. The number of troops at the barracks is lower than they have been. Marines and Soldiers we’ve met over the past year or two have recently been medically discharged, and the ones still living there are kept busier than they used to be just a few years ago.
Stockings, cards, and other items left at the end of the day were taken by Katie, Bob and Guy to 7 East (the Traumatic Brain Injury Ward in the hospital) and the Marine Liaison Office for distribution.
A little bit about Mercy Hall:
Individual living quarters in this small out-patient barracks are equipped with a small fridge and microwave in a dorm-like room with a kitchenette. Pots, pans, cooking utensils, plates, cups, and silverware are the responsibility of the residents living there. We recently learned those basic items are no longer provided for them. That ended after the building was remodeled in 2011 due to budgetary restraints.
There is no cafeteria in Mercy Hall. McDonald’s and a gas station, kind of like a “Quick Stop Shop”, are a short walk away – downhill. To get to the hospital cafeteria is quite a walk, and the Warrior Cafe in Building 62 is even farther away – uphill. There is no commissary on base. Unless they’re able or inclined to cook for themselves, choices for food and meals are limited for these mostly young, single, men and women living on their own. Many have told us they don’t like going over to the Warrior Cafe (it’s too busy for them) and after a long tiring day, they don’t want to walk to the cafeteria.
Physical therapy and other things the out-patients have on their daily schedules are also quite a walk away from where Mercy Hall is located. Our bi-monthly Thursday luncheons are “drop in and have lunch with us” on a “catch as catch” can basis. Bethesda Naval Hospital and the old Walter Reed Army Medical Center combined in September 2011 and most events for the out-patients are now held in Building 62, on the other side of the hospital. We are one of very few groups still doing events at Mercy Hall.
One of the 19 year old residents of Mercy Hall said to us,
We love your luncheons! You make it feel like HOME!”
As we were leaving, we told one of the Sailors we met six months ago we’d be back in February. He said,
“I wish you’d come back in January.”
We asked him, “Why? Are you leaving before February?”
No, I just like it when you come. Your food is so good and it beats the Ramen noodles I have back in my room.”
After the chafing dishes start simmering, when you open the door and walk into the lobby the scent of the food reminds you of “Mom’s kitchen” at home on a Sunday afternoon.
Our luncheons are really appreciated by the guys and gals living at Mercy Hall, and we are very grateful for our Supporters and Volunteers who make them possible.
Below is a list of this year’s Holiday Cheer “Elfs”. Thank you, sincerely, for making the day extra special for the Marines, Sailors and Soldiers we served!
The Holiday Cheer Menu:
Cheese Spread and CrackersRoasted TurkeyBaked HamMashed Potatoes and GravyCornbread StuffingAssorted RollsGreen BeansSweet Potato CasserolePasta SaladFresh FruitShortbread, Sugar, and Chocolate Chip CookiesAssorted drinks, including six varieties of Two If By Tea®
Imagine our surprise when 8 cases (96 bottles) of tea arrived by Fed Ex from an anonymous donor!
Many Thanks to the “Elfs” for helping to spread “Holiday Cheer at Mercy Hall” this year!
Stocking Thank You’s!
25 stockings for the Mercy Hall luncheon!
Bayside Quilters of the Eastern Shore made the stockings.
“Just An Elf” from somewhere sent 8 cases (96 bottles) of assorted flavors ofTwo If By Tea®for our “Semper Fi Guys”. [Double-duty – Warriors enjoyed a delicious drink, while proceeds from our donor’s purchase supported Two If By Tea®’s sponsorship of the Marine Corps – Law Enforcement Foundation (MC-LEF), which provides assistance to the children of United States Marines and federal law enforcement personnel who were killed on duty or died under extraordinary circumstances while serving our country.]
And yes, we taste tested the tea to make sure it passed inspection for our Marines, Sailors and Soldiers.
This Marine Mom gives it a “Thumb’s UP!” (Especially the Raspberry flavor.)
But more importantly, the guys and gals liked it.
The Luncheon Crew! Thank you, for both your time and your donations of food!
Katie, Gladys, Bob, Guy, and Jane, and Jaime from “Touch of Relief” provided free seated massages.
This was our last “Holiday Cheer” event in Building 50.
The old barracks is closing in 2014 and being replaced by “Sanctuary Hall”, an outpatient barracks twice the size of Mercy Hallwhich according to this article, will be serving combat-wounded Warriors and their caregivers in the last stage of rehabilitation as they learn to live on their own before they are medically discharged.
We’ll follow along with them! Our six Thursday luncheon dates for 2014 have been approved!
Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May your Holidays be the best ever, and… please keep our military, far from home, whether they be deployed, or across the country from their families, or in a military or VA hospital, and their families in your thoughts and prayers.
Special thoughts for our Gold Star Families, whose loved ones have paid the ultimate price in service to our country.
“Holiday Cheer” is one of our favorite events of the year!
Thinking about all of the “Elfs” involved, from our hands-on volunteers to the “Elfs” across the country who help make the event possible, it is overwhelming. Your support and help is deeply appreciated by those who are the recipients of your kindness.
The past several years we have held “Holiday Cheer” at Mercy Hall. However since the transition of Walter Reed to Bethesda, the dynamics at Mercy Hall have changed and we thought we could better serve our mission by hosting the luncheon on 4 Center, the 4th floor surgical ward, received permission to do so, and forward we went.
To our delight and complete surprise an Elf said, “Janie, pick up two chaffing dishes, a popcorn popper, two 6′ portable tables and a 4′ table. A check’s on the way to cover the cost.” When I opened the boxes to wash the chaffing dishes, I thought I had died and gone to Heaven. A very welcome addition to MM-B’s “Stash of Stuff” for the luncheons!!! Thank you SO much!!!
Plans for “Holiday Cheer” began this fall when the holiday card collection began. Information was sent out in our newsletter and on our Facebook page.
Many of our card “Elfs” send year after year. We begin receiving inquiries about them in August. Cards started coming in from all over the country in October. Lots and lots of cards from Florida this year thanks to Jan and her Florida “Elfs” getting the word out.
Always love the cards from “Our Lady of Victory School” in Baltimore – pre-K through 4th grade and their Girl Scout Troop. This is the third year they have participated in the card collection.
One group of cards came to us from Iowa; and there must have been 25 signatures from different people in each card, each signature with a different message to the troops. Screening the cards is one of my favorite things to do during “Holiday Cheer”. The messages are very heartwarming. Each card bundle had approximately 22 to 25 cards.
Once again, Chris and the Bayside Quilters’ Outreach Ladies made the stockings (and sent cards). Elf Jess did the shopping and with the help of Elf Bobbi and the crew from “Covers and Soles”, wrapped and filled them.
Bobby from “Covers and Soles” donated hand-knit socks for the stockings,
and “Snowman Soup”.
The Sunday after Thanksgiving, the Cookie “Elfs” packed 60 containers of cookies.
One dozen cookies in each container. BEAU COUP bunches this year. “Elfs” who said they would send 4 or 5 dozen cookies sent 10 and 12 dozen. (Guess what was dessert the day of the luncheon?)
Okie dokie, cards, stockings, cookies taken care of! Thank you, “Elfs”!
Menu: Pickles and olives, cheese platter, roast beef, ham, turkey breast, gravy, mashed potatoes, dinner rolls, macaroni and cheese, green bean casserole, garden salad, cranberry sauce, fruit salad, cake, cookies and brownies, and popcorn, assorted drinks and of course, smoothies.
When I heard Cyd and Kym from the T.A.M.P.A. group down in Florida were going to be in the area for the Semper Max Wounded Warrior Support Conference I invited them to join us for the luncheon. Cyd and I have “known” each other online for several years. I remember when the T.A.M.P.A. group started back in 2004.
Elf Jess offered very welcomed free seated massages to the families on 4 East. Cyd helped hand out the stockings and cards, kept the desserts flowing and the drink cart filled and helped wherever she saw a need.
Jack and Wayne from the Choptank Marine Corps League #439 were our “Santa Marines”.
They have helped out at Mercy Hall luncheons in the past but this was their first visit to the 4th floor. We love having them join us.
The “OOH RAH Girls”, Kym and Kelly made smoothies, popcorn and helped serve. This was Kelly’s first time with us. Her extra pair of helping hands were gratefully appreciated! Kym’s beautiful smile was as welcome as the Florida sunshine and 82 degree temps she had to leave to come North.
One of the really neat things that happened was when we gave a mom we met several luncheons ago the gift certificates that The Spa Room donated to us back in August. She and her son will use them.
Cathy, also a new volunteer, Connie, and Katie all seemed to escape the camera. They were not in one spot long enough to to stand still for a picture!
Katie and Connie went down to ICU and invited families up for lunch. While there, Connie had the opportunity to say hello to a family whose Soldier had attended the Naval Academy while her daughter was there.
We had the pleasure of meeting Shannon Maxwell from Semper Max. She put a little bug in my ear about the TBI guys… this got my mind whirling… looking forward to some special events just for them next year…
After the patients and families were served, we opened the luncheon up to the Caregivers – staff – of our Warriors. Many of them are also far from home and we were grateful for the opportunity to bring some “Holiday Cheer” to them as well.
Thinking about all of the people, donations, hours given from the heart by everyone involved to make this day so special was very humbling to me.
Thank you to our volunteers, our “Elfs” both local and across the country, to the caregivers, and most especially, Thank You to those who have sacrificed so much on behalf of their country and to their families who stand beside them.
Special Thanks To:
The Marine Corps Liaison Staff at Walter Reed NMMC, Choptank Marine Corps League # 439, Bayside Quilters – YOU LADIES ROCK!!, Bobbi and “Covers and Soles”, Torina, Jan Z., Mary T., Joanna and Joel, Barbara, and Edgar, and Don, Barb, and Deb McF., Maureen, Mr. Benson, Chris and Carey, Julie, Janelle, Jen, and Nicholas, and to our “Card Elfs” – Jan Z. and the Florida Roses, Barbara H. in AL, Torina and Friends in Utah, Sally in Texas, Terri in FL, Momma Dee in FL, Marilyn in Oregon, Ellen-Alisa in CO, Gramma Pam in CA, Mary Ann, DAV 101 and DAVA 101 in FL, the Brod and O’Bannon Families in IN, PMM of Cpl. Bradley in CO, Patricia and Friends in VA, Carrie in Wisconsin, Bayside Quilters in MD, and the Iowa Farm Crew, and I have a feeling I have unintentionally left someone out….
Today’s Luncheon Crew: Katie, Connie, Jess, Cathy, Kelly, Jack, Wayne, Cyd and Kym – Job WELL Done! Thank you!
Love and Hugs,
4 Comments on “Holiday Cheer 2011″ at Bethesda
1. William “Guy” Ellis on Sun, 18th Dec 2011 00:07
How can I make a cash donation? What goes on the Payee line? To what address do I send it?
2. Jane on Sun, 18th Dec 2011 23:59
A check or money order (no cash please) made out to “Marine Moms Bethesda” may be mailed to: Marine Moms Bethesda P.O. Box 22 Cordova, MD 21625 Thank you, Guy!
3. Cyd Deathe on Sun, 18th Dec 2011 21:08
Jane, What an honor it was to finally meet you in person (after all these years via the internet) and help with your wonderful Holiday event at the hospital.
You and your organization are doing wonderful things and we are so very proud to know you and be able to work hand and hand when wounded arrive.
Keep up the great work and hopefully sometime soon you can come down tojoin us for one of our events. Hint / Hint – 5th Annual Run For the Fallen Tampa in August of 2012
4. Jane on Sun, 18th Dec 2011 21:39
It was a pleasure having you with us, Cyd! So glad you and Kym were able to be there. Let me know when you have a date set for the Run For the Fallen!
“Elfs”, Cookies, Stockings, Cards, and a Holiday Meal!
Here’s our AAR for Holiday Cheer 2010. Thank you to everyone who made it a wonderful success! You are SO appreciated!!!
Some “Elfs” sent gift cards, some sent stocking stuffers and ornaments, and others sent checks to help with the Santa shopping. They also helped by getting the word out about “Holiday Cheer at Bethesda” by posting on Facebook or on their websites and blogs.
Saying “Thank you” for your unconditional support of our wounded, injured, and ill service members seems inadequate to me. I have difficulty finding words strong enough to express the appreciation and gratitude that comes from the troops and their families when we gave them the stockings, cookies, cards, and food that they weren’t expecting.
So many people have given their time, money, and hearts to help with our event and each one of you have touched many people in extraordinarily wonderful ways that we will never know.
Thank you. We appreciate you.
Thank you to the “Cookie Elfs” – Kate, Barb, Don, Robin, Janelle, Aunt Jeanne and Mr. Russell, Alice, Catherine, Chris and her ladies from Bayside Quilters – Barb C. Kris S., and Marlene, and Grace. Thanks also to Delmarva Blue Star Mothers for helping to fund the cookie tins.
Jeanne, Janelle, Barb, Don. and Katie gathered together to sort the cookies into cheery tins. Each tin held a dozen assorted cookies.
Just a few of the delicious cookies the Cookie “Elfs” made.
Nope, they’re not mini-burgers. The cuties below were made by Alice and are vanilla wafers with a Peppermint Pattie between them to look like a hamburger, using red and yellow icing to hold them together to look like ketchup and mustard with sesame seeds on top.
We filled 77 cookie containers with at least a dozen cookies in each, and have cookies in the freezer for another luncheon. Grace brought at least 8 more containers with her the day of the luncheon.
Stockings were stitched by Bayside Quilters and filled with the help of “Elfs” from all over the country. Thank you Bayside Quilters for your support and dedication to our troops not only for “Holiday Cheer’, but all year long. You have brought so many smiles and so much comfort to the combat troops and their families throughout the year.
They were stuffed with things like this and more,
including hand-knitted hats by Jessi’s friends Cheryl, Tesia, Michelle, Abi, and “Covers & Soles”. Thank you!
Thank you, Elf Jess, for heading this up! A HUGE project! And thank you for doing massages after you unpacked the stockings.
Thanks also to “Elfs” Jason, Neale, and Erin who helped to wrap and stuff the 65 stockings.
The stockings were divided between which ones were best for Mercy Hall and best for 5 East; some for the guys and gals we see every Mercy Hall luncheon (we know what they like); some had more “things” while others had more gift cards.
Cards were sent by people all across the United States from Alaska to Florida, Maine to California, Minnesota to Texas and points in between. Some just had a signature; some had every spare space filled with words.
We made up 60 bundles with 30 to 40 cards in each packet. Thank you “Card Elfs”!
Thank you, Janelle and Katie, for helping to screen them.
Thank you to Susie, Grace, Katie, and Jess for the good food!
Menu: Roast beef, ham, scalloped potatoes, mashed potatoes, salad, rolls, appetizers, pumpkin pie, apple pie, cookies, and smoothies. I probably forgot something.
Hope is interning for her future Naval MOS and is required to do volunteer work as part of the requirements. She helped Susie and Grace serve the luncheon.
More “Elfie” Stuff:
Bayside Quilters sent quilts as did some groups that are in contact with one of our volunteers.
Melissa from Ohio sent some warm, snuggly, beautiful fleece blankets with cards from the families that made them.
When we finished and packed up at Mercy Hall, Katie and I, with Hope’s help, went over to the hospital ward to distribute stockings, cookies, and the card bundles. When we returned to load up the car, the Mercy Hall staff was decorating with what we had left there.
This came from Amerina after the event:
“Hey Jane just wanted to thank you and let you know that the boys here at mercy hall enjoyed the stockings and yesterdays treats! I gave the rest of the stockings out at formation and hung the rest of the little stockings but by morning they were all gone. Such a success! Once again me and Pascal front desk staff would like to thank you for including us with your functions here @ mercy Hall Bethesda! I will send pictures of the tree as soon as we get it up. Thank you for funding the decorations.”
They ended up decorating two trees, one in the common room and one in the entryway.
Our Choptank Marine Corps League friends were with us. They helped sponsor “Holiday Cheer”.
Jim (“Old Corps”, 1946 – 1948) sent this out to his friends:
“A luncheon was served at Mercy Hall and gifts, blankets, quilts, canisters of cookies, stockings stuffed with goodies and packets of cards with greetings and thank you for your service were given out to the Marines recovering from wounds received in protecting our country. The meal was roast beef, and ham with all the trimmings.
Later stockings, cards and cookies were taken to the wards where the non-ambulatory were recovering.
Most moving was when a entire family of brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, mother and father, grandfather and grandmother [just guessing at the relationship] came through the line and took their meal over to the ward to be with their son. They received gifts as well for him.
Visiting the hospital and seeing the sacrifices of these young servicemen and servicewomen is very humbling.”
We also thank and are grateful for our “Defenders of Freedom” for their dedication and commitment to our country.