Twentynine Palms -- In today’s world there is rarely time to relax with family, or to enjoy the presence of one another. For service members, duty, late hours, deployments and a country to protect makes time a valuable and obscure commodity. Yeseida Reyes, special events & volunteer coordinator, Armed Services YMCA, provided a respite from the challenges of military life with the ASYMCA Holiday Cheer event that was held at bldg. 1707, Dec. 20, 2017.
“These children don’t understand why their mom or dad has to stay out in the field, go on deployments or work late,” Reyes said. “Lessening the families’ financial burdens makes a difference because they’re able to give their children a long-lasting Christmas memory that is stress-free.”
During the event, which was open to active duty military families, volunteers entertained the children in attendance with Christmas-themed carnival games and arts and crafts while their parents chose holiday gifts in the next room over and spent quality time with their children afterwards.
“My wife learned about this event through a Facebook page, ‘Make the Stumps Better,’” said Sgt. Tyler Proctor, publications NCO, 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. “I would absolutely come back next year.”
Special guests attended the event as well, bringing particular joy to the children who get their presents from Santa each year. Santa, Mrs. Claus and “Elfie” made an appearance at the Holiday Cheer event. Martha Aparicio, who is a business manager for a medical practice when she is not playing elf, had a camera in hand to take photos of the children with Santa Claus.
“The military keeps us safe and this is our time to give back,” Aparicio said. “It’s amazing how many parents bring their children to get a photo with Santa.”
At Reyes’ first event, she said she realized her job positively impacted families and little by little her job became a passion to fight for the military families and provide them with the positivity they deserve.
“The ASYMCA is a non-profit organization that depends on the support from grants and donors to keep them going,” Reyes said. “Our goal is to make it bigger and better each year. People can give back through donations for the next toy drive or they can volunteer through different event opportunities—the ASYMCA is definitely the best-kept secret that we have here on base.”
For more information about the ASYMCA contact Reyes at (760) 830-7481, bldg. 192.