By Jay Lloyd

By Jay Lloyd

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —  Away from home during the holidays can produce a bout of loneliness, even if surrounded by shipmates. That’s why some South Jersey folks offer the gift of “home.”

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Remember the peacetime recruiting slogan, “Join the Navy and See the World?” The military offered the young a chance to serve their country, discover themselves and experience the ultimate getaway. But for new recruits, like those at the Coast Guard Training Center at Cape May, many away from home for the first time, something is missing at holiday time.

“Now, I’ve adopted 24 kids or more, all throughout the country,” said Gretchen Whitman.

Whitman, with her veteran Marine husband, takes one to four recruits into their home at Thanksgiving and Christmas as part of Operation Fireside.

“Our very first recruit that we ever hosted, we still get post cards from him.”

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Operation Fireside can always use volunteers. It’s coordinated by the Ft. Dix Chapter of the Red Cross.


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