Navy League helps sailors have a happy holiday season

Navy League Everett Chapter President Kathy Gambill helps 40 volunteers put together Thanksgiving baskets for area sailors in 2008. - Courtesy photo
Navy League Everett Chapter President Kathy Gambill helps 40 volunteers put together Thanksgiving baskets for area sailors in 2008.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

EVERETT — Neither Kathy Gambill nor Mitchel Wilson has served in the military, but they want to make sure that the sailors of Naval Station Everett will have happy holidays this year.

Gambill is president of the Everett chapter of the Navy League, while Wilson is a 16-year-old Marysville resident who’s a member of the Gadsden Battalion of the Sea Cadets. Both of them have helped put together Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets for local sailors for the past few years.

When Gambill joined the Navy League in 2005, the first year of holiday baskets that she organized served 150 sailors and their families who were selected by the station chaplain and commanding officer based on need. This year, Gambill estimated that close to 400 families need holiday baskets including sailors attached to the station and home-ported ships, as well as those assigned to the Marysville support complex.

“I observed a need,” said Gambill, a Costco employee who recruited other area businesses into supporting the holiday baskets. “This is a gift to our sailors, thanking them for sacrificing to serve us.”

Wilson has volunteered to put together holiday baskets for three of his six years in the Sea Cadets. As a home-schooled student with a flexible schedule, he’s volunteered hundreds of hours to various groups. His father is in the Navy Reserve, and he said that giving out holiday baskets to sailors has added to his respect for the military.

“They need help and giving them turkey dinners and gifts for their kids is the least we can do,” Wilson said.

In addition to Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, the Navy League gives out toys to hundreds of children of sailors in need each year, but according to Navy League Everett Chapter Vice President Milt Heger, the group could come up as much as $4,000 short in its charity efforts this year.

“If we don’t reach our goal, some sailors and families will not receive what they need,” Heger said. “We hope we don’t have to make that choice.”

Tax-deductible donation checks may be written to the Navy League at P.O. Box 1449, Everett, WA 98206.

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