CARLSBAD, CALIF. – More than a few, proud Marines from Camp Pendleton showed up last week at the La Costa Glen retirement community in Carlsbad, Calif., for a thank you barbecue and appreciation ceremony. Only this time, it was the Marines who were doing the thanking.
More than 100 active Marines and three retired generals were on hand for the event organized by the Rotary Club of Camp Pendleton to thank the seniors for their efforts to assist the Marines and their families with donations of household goods and furniture.
According to Linda Sundram, past president of the Rotary Club, the "Lunch with the Marines" barbecue provided a way for the Marines to personally express their appreciation for the seniors' help for their families while they were away on duty. Since the program was launched three years ago, more than $100,000 in donations of household goods and furniture to the families have been made.
The program to help the Marines and their families was the brainstorm of La Costa Glen residents (retired) General Will Simlik, age 88, and his wife, Pearl, age 91. General Simlik served as a major in the Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton from 1954 to 1956.
"Many times when seniors move into a community such as La Costa Glen, they need to downsize a bit and donate some of their furniture," said General Simlik. "On the other hand, it can be a challenge to find a charity that is willing to pick up large pieces of furniture. We organized a program with the Marines and the Rotary Club that would donate our residents' furniture and other household items to the Marines. All we asked is that they bring a truck to pick up the goods. Our residents are absolutely thrilled to be able to help our Marine families.
"The best part is that the Marine families are getting great use out of the furniture and other items, and they are so appreciative. This program has become so popular that we even have family members of our residents who are donating their furniture to the families."
Prior to the barbecue, the Marine Corps Color Guard presented the colors for the appreciation ceremony and the Rotary Club presented a plaque to General and Mrs. Simlik that was dedicated to all of the residents of La Costa Glen. Also on hand for the ceremony and barbecue were two other retired Marine Corps generals, Major General Carl Hoffman, USMC retired, and Brigadier General George Dooley, USMC retired.