Christmas trees, decorations, food and gifts filled a chapel in San Diego Wednesday as more than 1,000 military families filed in to receive goodies that will help get them through the holidays.
The Armed Services YMCA San Diego (ASY) held its 27th annual Military Family Holiday Toy Program at Murphy Canyon Chapel on Santo Road, an event that aims to help make the season brighter for military families.
For U.S. Navy service member Anthony Blonigen and his wife and three children, the event does that and more.
“Being in the military, the community really gives back and helps out,” he told NBC 7.
“Whether we’re struggling or not this really helps us out. We’re very blessed.”
Blonigen, who’s been serving for 10 years, said this is the second time his family has partaken in the program. The eyes of his eldest child lit up sifting through boxes filled with toys.
After families chose their toys, volunteers wrapped each gift with care so they’d be ready to put underneath the Christmas tree. Outside, 700 turkeys donated by partners like JMI Realty and Jackson & Blanc were given to families.
ASY San Diego executive director Tim Ney said the program is a small way to thank military families and ensure they have a happy holiday season.
"Our military families sacrifice so much," he said.
Founded in 1920, the ASY provides support to military members and their families through programs unique to the challenges of military life. To learn more about the organization’s work, click here.