Written by Chaplain Jonathan Alexander, Lt.
It was a cold December morning as a team of volunteers loaded a truck filled with over 200 gifts for several local communities in Washington, D.C. The gifts were provided by generous contributions to the 2017 Coast Guard Headquarters Holiday Adopt-a-Teen Gift Bag Drive.
“We intentionally focused the gift drive on teenagers who are often overlooked during holiday generosity campaigns,” said Base National Capital Region Chaplain Jonathan Alexander, project officer for the gift drive. “We want to show our local community that the U.S. Coast Guard and Coast Guard Headquarters cares about them and our neighborhood. We also want to cultivate the character value of generosity. It’s been said, ‘Your greatness is not what you have. It is what you give.’”
Headquarters personnel were asked to donate gift bags for teen boys and girls, filled with gift cards and electronic items such as headphones and portable chargers. Numerous individuals and teams, including those from the Coast Guard Officers Association, contributed cash donations for the drive. In the final tally, the results were amazing — 204 gift bags, a 25 percent increase from last year. Additionally, 40 volunteers helped prepare the gift bags and delivered them to the local community.
“This year’s Adopt-a-Teen gift drive was a great success,” said Rear Adm. Matthew Bell, commander of the Coast Guard Personnel Service Center and executive sponsor for the drive. “The generosity and kindness displayed by our donors is incredibly heartwarming! My faith in humanity is always reignited around the holidays.”
The Coast Guard Headquarters has a positive history of engaging the surrounding community. One important partnership has been with the District of Columbia Housing Authority Office, who provides affordable housing to low-income residents. With the overwhelming response for the holiday drive, gift bags were delivered to four local D.C. Housing Authority communities.
“On behalf of my colleagues and the Housing Authority residents, we would like to say ‘Thank you’ to the U.S. Coast Guard,” said Office of Resident Services Ron Friday. “Your generous gifts will help make the holidays that much better for our families.”
Programs like the Holiday Adopt-a-Teen Gift Drive highlight the Coast Guard’s values of honor, respect, and devotion to duty. At our core, we are an organization that cares for and serves people. Once again, we demonstrated who we truly are and what matters most to us. Semper Paratus!