OCEANSIDE — Holiday joy was felt all around as Operation Homefront volunteers helped military families pick up food baskets and select toys for the holidays. Holiday goods were distributed at the QLN Conference Center over two days. Dec. 7 food baskets were provided for families and Dec. 8 toys were available for pickup. This is the first year food baskets were distributed.
“The intention of the program is to provide meals to military families during the holidays,” Jack Chirrick, executive director of the California field office of Operation Homefront, said. “I like to say we take care of shopping for them.”
In addition to food goods, paper plates and cups were also included to ensure families had everything they needed for a holiday meal. The food basket pickup day included light refreshments and a chance for families to mingle.
Toy distribution on the following day brought lots of smiles. Some parents picked out toys and wrapped them for their children to open on Hanukkah or Christmas. Others brought their children along and let them pick out their gifts.
Toys covered the interests of babies to teens.
“There’s a wide range of toys from baby building blocks to Hot Wheels cars, and basketballs, footballs and Frisbees,” Chirrick said.
The Dollar Tree store is a chief partner in helping Operation Homefront collect toy donations.
Operation Homefront also accepts cash donations. This allows the organization to buy a variety of toys.
“We’re constantly contacted,” Chirrick said. “People really care about military families.”
Chirrick served in the U.S. Navy for 21 years and has a good understanding of the sacrifices young military families make.
“It’s a morale program,” Chirrick said. “To show that we as American citizens care about them.”
“They give every single day,” Chirrick added. “It’s an honor for us.”
Operation Homefront is well known in military communities and works to support military families throughout the year.
Both holiday events were posted on the Operation Homefront Facebook page. Families were invited to sign up and the first 400 families were served. Most families who attended are based in Camp Pendleton.
A second toy distribution was held in San Diego on Dec. 15. Donations allowed 1,000 families to be served.
“We’ve been in the area for a long time,” Chirrick said. “We’re committed to them.”
Operation Homefront began in Southern California and now operates nationwide. Its efforts have served more than 590,000 people in the last 10 years.