MARIETTA, Ga. -- Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers brought holiday cheer Tuesday to the residents of the Azalea Manor Assisted Living Facility in Marietta. The 22 Guard members sang Christmas carols, chatted with residents and played multiple rounds of Bingo.
"We wanted to do something to give back to the community," said Lt. Col. Alexander McLemore, director of logistics for the Georgia Army National Guard. "Rather than conduct an office gift exchange, the Soldiers decided to take gifts for others."
Among the gifts the Soldiers brought were slippers, warm socks, blankets and home-baked cookies. The Guard members distributed gifts to the smiling residents and even sang happy birthday to Beatrice Hudson, who had just turned 85.
"This was the perfect opportunity for us to make a difference," said Sgt 1st Class Maurika Flores, a budget analyst with the Georgia Army National Guard Directorate of Logistics. Flores and the other Soldiers circulated among the residents sharing stories and cheer during their visit.
The Guard members embarked on their merry mission from the nearby Clay National Guard Center, which is home to the Georgia Guard's Joint Force Headquarters as well as two of the Georgia Army National Guard's five brigades.
Most of the Georgia Guardsmen who visited the Azalea Manor residents have deployed overseas, some multiple times. For many, the experience of being away from home and Family during the holidays added a sense of purpose to their mission to Azalea Manor.
"Honestly, I don't know who benefited more from this visit, the residents or our Soldiers," McLemore said.