Gifts from the heart

  • Published
  • By MS. Jacki Caron Mortenson
  • Dir., Operation Warm Heart
It was late, and the cold rain finally started to let up a little as the elves and I left our annual get together. Even though our backs ached and our feet hurt, our hearts felt warmer as we dodged raindrops from Santa's workshop to our cars. We hugged and wished a Merry Christmas to each other with our tired but spirited voices knowing that we just helped 34 March families have warmer hearts this season.

The Christmas carols we had sung along to during the hours of ribbon-tying were still swirling in my head as I started to drive away. As I drove on the freeway, the low clouds made way to the spectacular sight of snow on top of Box Springs Mountain.

Large raindrops that looked more like snowflakes were hitting my windshield in between swipes of the moving blades. As the lights of the other cars danced on the wintery wet road, I started to think about the volunteers who drove from Torrance with hundreds of toys to donate to the kids of our troops.

The further north I drove, the flakes started to collect on the bottom of my windshield and I thought of all those who collected funds to purchase gift cards and donate them to Operation Warm Heart. As I got closer to home, I noticed how the Christmas lights on multiplied and I thought of all of those volunteers who gave the most precious gift of all, their time.

Christmas was right around the corner and we just finished orchestrating all the donations into the magical baskets, which were now waiting for the nominated families. The Operation Warm Heart warmth that I have felt for the past 13 years was glowing.

I am so thankful for the true altruistic elves that just helped capture a little bit of Christmas magic and warmth and place it in a simple straw basket. That warmth is our Christmas gift, knowing that all of the donations we received will be under the Christmas trees of 34 families in need.

For those families to know that there are a lot of generous people who care about them is what gives us that special glow, that is what that basket represents, caring from those who have a warm heart. There's no other way to describe the feeling of giving than to discover the gift of giving in your own heart.

The gift of giving has bestowed on many around us. The Operation Warm Heart elves would like to thank those who went out of their way this troubling year to donate toys, food, gift cards, and most of all, their time to Operation Warm Heart. We would like to thank the commanders, chiefs and first sergeants for being intuitive of their squadron members hurting this season. We also thank the nominators for privately acknowledging a family's pain and letting them know that we all care.

The Operation Warm Heart elves would like to thank all of the March members and off-base agencies who this year gave us so much to be thankful for.

Most of all, we would like to thank those who called and offered to do what they could. We heard from so many warmhearted people who called and asked, "What can I do for military families in need during these troubling times?" "We would like to donate toys for the children of the troops who are deployed!" "Can we deliver the Warm Heart baskets to the families?"

Operation Warm Heart not only gives March families a warmer Christmas, OWH gives those who have the "spirit of giving" a very warm glow in their hearts as well. We thank you for that!