VIDEO: Cape Military Spouses Bring Holiday Joy to Coast Guard Recruits with Stockings

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CAPE MAY - The 60-plus member Jersey Cape Military Spouses Club is stuffing stockings for the recruits stationed at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May this holiday season.
“A lot of the kids have no idea this year so I think it’ll be a huge surprise for them,” said Kristen Gallego, president of Jersey Cape Military Spouse Club.
The program started four years back with just a tiny stocking and a few items inside. It has now grown and exceeded the expectations of the members of the club.
“A lot of stuff will be in the stocking," said Corry Prestidge, chairperson for the Stockings for Recruits Program. "Anything from gift certificates and coupons to use out at local businesses, to uniform items, to cards from elementary kids and the American Legion, to a T-shirt that says: 'I Survived the Holidays at Training Center Cape May.'”
Recruits are not allowed to receive packages from back home so the Cape May County-based club takes advantage of the stockings to send a special message.
“I think it’s important for [the recruits] to know that their family is thinking of them, and their friends," said Prestidge. "We have included notes that their family and friends have written ... and we put them on note cards and those will go into the stockings, [too].”
Along with the stockings, the recruits will be treated to hot chocolate, cookies and a visit from Santa Claus.
“We have one of our male spouses playing Santa," said Prestidge. "[He] has a blue Santa costume and he’s going to read a poem, 'The Night Before Christmas,' but it’s all about boot camp.
“Most of these kids are only 18 years old, [have] never been away from home, never been away for a holiday, don’t know what that’s like," said Gallego. "They struggle with it, we see it daily and it’s a struggle."
The 290 recruits will each receive their Christmas stockings on Christmas Eve. And for the first time this year the event will be live-streamed so that all their families back home can watch the recruits unwrap their Christmas stockings.
"[T]his is a way to lift them up a little bit, and being there and seeing them and hearing feedback from them over the last three years ... they love it.”

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