The United Service Organization of North Carolina Jacksonville Center has served as a “home away from home” for patriots separated from their families during the holidays for more than 75 years.
Today the Jacksonville Center provided a Christmas meal for local service members, retirees, and their families.
“I mean, I enjoy it cause they did it for Thanksgiving as well,” Jamaree Jenkins, Active Marine, said.
Between Thanksgiving and now Christmas, the USO provided meals for more than 3,000 marines and their families.
“We’ll feed about 1,000 today. That includes who we serve here at the center and the Marines are taken care of our at Camp Devil Dog,” Holly Coffer, Coastal Area Director, said.
Those who are celebrating without their loved ones this Christmas, also benefit from the USO services. Sara Podwalny is a military spouse who spent Christmas at the USO center with their two children.
Her husband was on active duty.
“This is the first year probably in a while that we haven’t had any actual immediate family for Christmas, so that’s a little tough,” Podwalny said. “It’s also a bit of a hard year because we lost some really close loved ones, so for them to open their doors for us this year it means a lot.”
Over 50 volunteers spent their day giving back to our military, including Bienvenida Monsanto, who said this is how she has spent her last 2 Christmases.
“I have my kids abroad- in another country,” Monsanto said. “So for me it gives me the feeling that I can do something for somebody else. That gives me a good feeling.”
Coffer said she and her team enjoy spending their holidays with the Marines.
“We like spending Christmas here better than any other place. Christmas with the Marines I mean it can’t get any better,” Coffer said.