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It truly is better to give than to receive

Volunteer elves from the Dana Point Yacht Club pose for a picture with Santa Claus. The group hosted about 50 Marine families from Camp Pendleton Saturday, December 7 for dinner and a gift giveaway. Courtesy photo
Volunteer elves from the Dana Point Yacht Club pose for a picture with Santa Claus. The group hosted about 50 Marine families from Camp Pendleton Saturday, December 7 for dinner and a gift giveaway. Courtesy photo

By Barbara Merriman

The old adage, “It’s better to give than to receive” was never more evident than last Saturday, December 7. The Dana Point Yacht Club was filled with Marines from Camp Pendleton and their families. They had been invited to come and enjoy lunch with Santa.

This event has been an annual event for nine years and each year, as more club members participate, it gets a little better. There is even a waiting list to be an elf. Elf hats are mandatory, but pointy shoes are optional.

MarineChristmasLogoThe families are asked to RSVP with the names and ages of their children, along with a request for a toy (in the $35 to $40 range) and a little something about each child so Santa can talk with them. The children are always surprised when Santa knows the name of their pet, if they are on the honor roll or if they have been helpful to mom or dad—or even if they have been in a playground fight. Our Santa this year was staff commodore Pat Shoemaker, who enjoys this gig and is really good at it.

The Marine families began arriving at 11:30 a.m. where they were greeted by our “check-in elves,” offered a Christmas tattoo by our “tattoo elves,” then shown to their tables by our “hostess elves.” At noon, the “serving and busing elves” were busy during and after lunch, and then the “gift elves” got into the act. We even had a couple of “photo elves” who took pictures of each family with Santa.

DPYC members provided enough donations to buy gifts for each of the 50 children (some years we have a few more, some years a few less) along with a gift card from Target for the parents.

Live music is provided by a member or two from the yacht club, known as our “music elves.”

This year, we were delighted to have the talent of violinist and Councilman Scott Schoeffel, a former mayor of Dana Point, playing carols, with me on the piano, as the guests were seated.

Christmas placemats with crayons and stickers were provided for each child, along with a small coloring book. We also had some special centerpieces this year. Each table was adorned with one of 21 little wooden trains made by Bill Taylor, nicknamed “Chief Toy Elf.” When the announcement was made that each family could take home a train, there was an audible gasp in the room. It made us all smile. As the emcee, Bob Perdue, called each family up to visit with Santa and receive their gifts, excitement continued to build.

You could feel and see the happiness and the gratitude in the room as the families departed with their gifts. Each year, this giving event brings as much, or more, happiness to the members as it does to the guests from Camp Pendleton. It was, as always, a great boost to the Christmas Season for all involved.

Barbara Merriman is a former public school music teacher with a love for outdoor sports, primarily sailing and golf. She keeps a sailboat at Dana Point Harbor, has a passion for protecting the environment and serves on the Board of Directors at the Ocean Institute.

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