Fourth Arm of Defense Supports Military Families

Tacoma-Area Seafarers Donate Time, Money, More through ‘Santa’s Castle’

February 2010

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When some military members in the Northwest United States needed a boost during the holidays, 70 volunteers from the Tacoma, Wash., SIU hall swung into action to help support those who do so much for our nation.

Through a program called “Santa’s Castle,” SIU members and others in the state—along with officers and enlisted personnel at Ft. Lewis, Wash.—come together to collect donations of toys, money and other
items in support of the military’s lower enlisted ranks – those who are paid the least, but who often are deployed the most. Names of families that are in need of support are submitted to post officials such as chaplains and first sergeants.

During the recent holiday season, Santa’s
Castle provided gifts to more than 1,600 children from nearly 700 families for a total of about $125,000 worth of toys. To top off the season’s activities, the Tacoma hall sponsored a luncheon for volunteers and families.

“As part of the fourth arm of defense, we wanted to give something back to the families of those who are on the front lines when our nation calls,” said SIU Tacoma Port Agent Joe Vincenzo. “As mariners, we in Tacoma have worked side by side with many of these folks [service members] in various operations in which we deliver the goods. They’re like family to us so, it’s only fitting that we share the holiday cheer with their families.”

“Our families just fell in love with the Seafarers who volunteered,” explained Santa’s Castle Assistant Vice President Susan Adams.

“They contacted us and volunteered. We have a lot of deployments in this area and many of our families have both parents deployed during the holidays. SIU folks helped make the holidays for these families warm and wonderful. And, boy, did they work. SIU folks alone collected more than $3,500 in donations of toys and money, and helped us run the program. Without our volunteers, there are families who might have had a less cheerful holiday season.”

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