This holiday season a group of military doctors and surgeons are asking local residents to reach out to people they’ve never met and wish them a merry Christmas.
Doctors and staff members from the Naval hospital in San Diego are currently collecting cards, letters and gifts for Marines stationed at “Camp Leatherneck” in Afghanistan.
Allison (Wilson) Robinson, a Big Pine native and surgeon at the Naval hospital, is helping to spread the word in her hometown and surrounding communities, hoping Inyo County will join the effort to spread holiday cheer to the Marines.
Camp Leatherneck is located near Camp Bastion, which houses the major hospital in the Helmand Province.
“The Helmand Province has long been an insurgent stronghold,” said Lloyd Wilson, Robinson’s father, who is helping to head up local efforts to have letters sent to Marines this Christmas. “Helmand Province has long been an insurgent stronghold.”
Wilson said staff at the hospital have described “mass casualties, horrible wounds with loss of limbs and death on a daily basis” at the hospital, and are hoping to alleviate the burdens of war with what staff members have dubbed “Operation Outreach.”
“These Marines have not had the care of a MOMS (Mothers of Military Servicemen and Servicewomen) Club to send them packages,” Wilson said. “Cards, letters, car or truck and fitness magazines, along with snacks, candy and long underwear are being collected. But, more than anything else, they would like to receive cards and letters.”
Residents are encouraged to simply address any encouraging letters or cards to “A Marine,” and drop them off at any of the many drop-off points in the county.
Wilson said the Inyo County Sheriff’s Department will be accepting the letters at substations in Bishop and Lone Pine and at the main offices in Independence. Also, the Bishop Methodist Church will open a collection site Tuesdays through Thursdays from 9 a.m.-noon . Residents of Shoshone can give their letters or donations to the resident deputy and Olancha residents are invited to give theirs to any member of the volunteer fire department. Big Pine residents are invited to drop off their letters and donations at the Country Kitchen.
In Mono County, donations may be dropped off at the Mammoth Lakes Police Department or the Bridgeport Sheriff’s Office.
Camp Leatherneck is home to several battalions, many of which came from Camp Pendleton in San Diego. Many Marines at Camp Pendleton travel up U.S. 395 to Pickel Meadows for training, and may remember passing through local communities.
The letters to Camp Leatherneck are separate from the MOMS Club efforts to send care packages to local residents who are serving in the military. The MOMS Club will be packing care packages at 5 p.m. Dec. 1.