Masonic Family celebrates 12 Days of Christmas with service members
December 26, 2009
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - On the third day of Christmas, the Masonic Family gave to the military ... three Nintendo Wiis, two calling cards, and a laptop.
In the 12 days leading up to and culminating with Christmas, the Prince Hall Affiliated Masonic Family raffles off presents to service members who attended the Fourth Annual 12 Days of Christmas celebration at the Morale, Welfare and Recreation centers Dec. 14 through Dec. 25 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.
Each night, drawings were held at one of three locations at Joint Base Balad: MWR east, MWR west and the Air Force Recreation Center, with the biggest drawing held on Christmas.
Staff Sgt. Olivia E. Bradshaw, the human resources sergeant with the 547th Transportation Company out of Washington, 49th Transportation Company, 90th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), said the Masonic Family sponsors the charity event. Bradshaw, a St. Croix, Virgin Islands, native, said the Masonic Family's main mission is to serve the community and, because the JBB community is primarily military, they choose to give to the service men and women in theater.
"Giving back to the community and the Soldiers throughout the year is one of the key contributions that the Masonic Family engages in while in theater," said Bradshaw, a member of the Order of Eastern Star, Stars of Light Chapter 178 out of Oklahoma.
Bradshaw said these locations were chosen because of their popularity, to ensure even service members who did not know of the event would participate and spread the word.
Errick I. Davis, a maintenance leader with the L-3 Communications Corporation, said items were donated by families in the United States or paid for out of pocket by the Masons.
Davis, the chairman of the event, chief leader of the Masonic organization here in Iraq and a Cleveland, Ohio, native, said the gifts included calling cards, Nintendo Wiis, laptop computers, Xbox's, digital cameras, camcorders and iPods.
"I look forward to this throughout the work day, coming out here and doing the 12 days of Christmas," said Davis, an 18-year member of the Masons. "I like to see the expressions on their faces when they open their gifts."
The event is geared toward ensuring every service member receives a gift during the holidays, he said.
Bradshaw said being away from family, friends and loved ones can be hard, and the Masonic Family wanted to bring a sense of normalcy to Iraq. This celebration can help boost fading morale during the holiday season, she said.
"In the end, this is to show them that we appreciate their sacrifice of being away from their families, and we hope to put a smile on a Soldier's face, joy in their hearts, and lift their spirits," she said.