Children of Deployed Military Enjoy Christmas at Dataw
Ho, ho, ho! Santa Claus made an early visit to children of deployed military personnel from the VMFA-312 & VMFA-251(marine fighter attack) squadrons from the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS).
On Sunday, December 3, Santa Claus and hundreds of Dataw Island “elves” hosted a Lunch with Santa and a Toy Extravaganza in the Carolina Room at Dataw Island. The children and accompanying adults were treated to a delicious kid-friendly complimentary lunch, then the kids got to choose from a sea of toys and sit with Santa for a family photo to complete the afternoon.
The event was filled with smiles and giggles but one thing was notably missing: a deployed parent. VMFA-312 and 251 are serving in the Far East and aboard a boat in an undisclosed location. For some, this is their second year in a row without their parent/spouse home for the holidays.
“To see these mothers connect with each other, it never gets old and let’s face it, they don’t have to cook! I love watching this,” says Lisa Montanez, Family Readiness Officer for VMFA-312. “It’s the show of support and I can’t thank them enough (Dataw residents) for what they do.”
Family Readiness Officer for VMFA-251, Sarhi Wiggins, stated, “Getting to see these families get a meal and pictures with Santa is one of my favorite things of the season. They get to come and relax.”
This is the first in fourteen years since this luncheon started that we have not had Dataw’s own, Jack Cummings, supporting. Cummings, who started the event use to look forward to playing the jolly ol’ guy each year, passed away this past year. “He lived for this,” Dataw member JoAnn Aspray said. Fighting back tears, Cummings’ wife, Vickie, added, “It’s going to be different this year without Jack.” Cummings was recently recognized as the Dataw Island Veteran of the Year for his commitment to volunteerism and working so closely with the elves to present this event each year.
Aspray closed saying, “This kicks off our holiday season and we absolutely love it!”
Thank you to all our Dataw Island members for donating hundreds of toys, covering the cost of the lunch and putting so much time and love into making this a special event!
Click here to see event photos.