Area soldiers get community Christmas treats

December 25, 2010 8:58:26 PM PST
More than 100 young sailors enjoyed a memorable Christmas celebration Saturday in Berwyn.

ComEd, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Italian American Civic Federation made the festivities possible.

Santa welcomed and hugged the guests, who are in boot camp at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center.

Another highlight was a full-course Christmas dinner. The sailors said they greatly appreciated the meal.

However, because of a boot camp ban on all phones, they were most elated with being treated to cell phone calls to family and friends across the U.S. and the world.

"The cell phones are awesome, right," said Jordan Kendle of Virginia Beach, Virginia. "I got to talk to my mom and my dad and my brother."

"I contacted my mom Saturday. She was pretty excited. She was shocked," said Stefon Smith of the Virgin Islands. "I said, 'Hey mom.' She was like, 'Who's this?' I was like: 'Stefon.' And she started screaming, and she started crying."

"Saturday's been great. If it wasn't for this program, I probably wouldn't have gotten to talk to my wife Saturday," said Robert Caudle of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. "I got to talk to all my family Saturday; it was great. I couldn't ask for anything more."

On Chicago's North Side, Ravenswood Pub continued a similar annual tradition it started in 2004.

Young sailors enjoyed food, games of pool, gifts, and of course, phone calls, all thanks to the pub, other businesses, and generous individuals.


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