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U.S. Fleet Forces Command Group Spreads 17 Years of Holiday Cheer
15 December 2022
NORFOLK, Va - This Christmas, two Hampton Roads area families in need will get a boost of holiday cheer from a group of civilian and military volunteers at U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFFC).
Seventeen years ago, Fred Jordan, a manpower management analyst at USFFC, started a holiday gift drive for local families in need. This gesture turned into an annual event supported by dozens of volunteers helping over 50 families.
“It started with one family,” said Jordan. “We've gotten as high as four families, so it grows based on what is needed.”
Jordan reaches out to area social service offices to receive a list of families in need his group can assist. He and his fellow volunteers work to raise money for the project.
The donations are given by employees past and present of USFFC and surrounding commands who ask to be on a donors list.
“Over the years, we've built up a list of people who have donated in the past,” said Dwayne Thompson, a fleet manpower officer at USFFC. “Even though some of them have transferred away or retired, they still want to participate, so Fred sends out an email, and starts collecting.”
For the past two years, the drive raised enough money to support two families for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Their efforts do not just provide toys and turkeys. Sometimes they help make rent payments over the holidays or purchase necessary household items like washers and dryers, whatever may be needed to help the families during the holiday season.
This year, two mothers are receiving money donations and gifts for their children.
“We're helping one family from Virginia Beach, and one from Chesapeake, seven children all together,” said Thompson. “So the two same families that we have for Christmas, we did at Thanksgiving. With the $250 we collected, we gave them a Navy Federal gift card to go shopping for food or whatever they needed for Thanksgiving.”
Thompson attributes the program’s continuing success to the reactions of the recipients.
“They’re overwhelmed, tearful, very thankful, every one of them,” said Thompson. “Sometimes the mother will send us a letter or card, just saying how thankful and grateful they are.”
Jordan recounted the story of a single mother of three putting herself through college who his group assisted during hard times. Just a year later she contacted him to say she graduated, found a good job, and was now following his example by helping a family in need for the holidays.
The group’s work is not limited to the holiday season. With the overwhelming amount of community support, Jordan’s volunteer group is able to help a few families in need throughout the year, including a single mother with a special needs child.
“We were able to send a special needs youth to summer camp, which was important because the mother worked two jobs. This summer camp was five days a week and could cover during the time that she worked,” said Thompson. “It was for six weeks, and it would help her until she found a daycare for the child. And so the summer camp came along and we more than willingly jumped on top of that.”
This is Jordan’s final year as the organizer of the drive as he is retiring in March 2023. He leaves the responsibility of next year’s drive in the hands of Tina Harrell, a USFFC manpower analyst, who looks forward to taking the reins after contributing to the effort for the past two years.
“Fred Jordan is Santa for real,” said Harrell. “For 17 years he has dedicated every year and then some to making sure these families and children have something for Christmas to open up. He's about paying it forward. He treats everybody with kindness and respect. I've learned a lot from working with him; he's a remarkable person. I just hope I can do a tenth of the job that he has done for these families.”
Our hats are off to Jordan and the efforts of his volunteers to bring joy to families during the holidays. If you would like to learn more about how you can make a difference in the lives of others, reach out to a local charity organization to donate or volunteer today. It only takes one small act of kindness to change a life forever.
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