Sending hearts to Marines

The place where the two red larger-than-life fire engines would normally sit in wait in the Lake Street Fire Station was filled instead with a mass of people Friday night assembling about 600 care packages for the city's adopted Marine battalion.

Residents, the Huntington Beach Firefighter's Assn., members of the Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) and veterans in the American Legion Post 133 all gathered in the oversized garage around tables laden with cardboard boxes of individual wet wipes, candies, toothbrushes, juice mixes and snacks — all items donated by the community.

Judie Freeman, a 42-year resident, stood tearing open plastic bags filled with white cotton socks and tossing individual pairs into the shipping boxes as residents queued to fill theirs.

"Just think how excited they are for these things," Freeman said, holding up a pair of the white socks.

All the items were donated by the community and stored at the fire station, said Fire Engineer Sam Moses, a member of the Huntington Beach Firefighter's Assn.'s public relations committee. The association, which has been working with the foundation for about four years, helped spearhead the project.

At the back of the garage, Cindy Cross sat at a table with a handful of other women filling out individual shipping order forms for the care packages that will be shipped to Afghanistan.

"This is really important to them," said Cross, the executive director of the Huntington Beach 3/1 Marines Foundation, to the volunteers. "You're not actually sending them candy and baby wipes, you're sending them your heart and letting them know you care."

More than 90 residents came out Friday to pack care packages for the city's adopted 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines stationed in Afghanistan, Cross said.

Huntington Beach adopted the battalion, stationed in Camp Pendleton, in 2005 when much of the nation was caught up in anti-military feelings and general lack of appreciation of those fighting abroad, said former Mayor and foundation Chairman Dave Sullivan. Huntington Beach wanted to show that "that isn't this town," he said.

It started as a subcommittee under the purview of the City Council, but has grown into its own foundation supporting the Marines and their families with care packages, welcome-home activities, assistance for the wounded and programs for families when the troops are deployed.

The "Thundering Third" was deployed for the third time since its adoption in April and is expected to be in Afghanistan through November. It was twice deployed to Iraq.

This is also the third time the foundation has sent out care packages, said Sullivan, also a veteran of the Army National Guard.

"I'm always amazed and thankful for the way the people of the community come through, and this is just another example of it," he said.

How To Help

The boxes are complete, but it is going to cost about $15,000 to ship them to Afghanistan. To help, go to

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