Sunday, December 4th , 2016 was a Magical and Joyous day…from Santa arriving in a red antique Mercedes (courtesy of Bob Gunthrop and the Antique Automobile Club of America) to the final offloading of the semis on Camp Pendleton. The generosity of our Bells of Freedom, Sponsors, Donors, and Volunteers this year was overwhelming. Providing these families, a sense of community support and love is what the Bells of Freedom wishes to do with this event every year this year it was a warm and loving community that came around these enlisted and their families with their financial and emotional support. AMAZING!

Our extreme Gratitude goes out to the base liaisons that help us make these events happen and they do so with great flair and precision and without hesitation. Thank you to FRO Toni Ramirez, SSgt David Denson, GySgt Michael Ritrovato, and Dennis Flores for doing ‘double duty’ with all that they have going on every day job on base to help us daily for three months to ready for this event with nominating families, looking for and providing a venue, securing entry for our more than 76 autos (yes, we counted yesterday) and arranging banquet tables and room with a real Holiday party feel. Thank you to the young AAS Marines for their assistance throughout the day…they were a true blessing to us yesterday. Thank you to the Otis Foundation, Jenny Craig and the Baker Foundation that provides funds to feed and give away happiness to our Marine and Navy families. And of course, we couldn’t do what we do without our loyal friends and partners of the United Parcel Service.

We also want to thank you friends at The Tamarack Beach Resort, The Grand Pacific Palisades Hotel and the Cape Rey at Carslbad Beach for their donation of one night stays for our Marine and Navy families. Also, a shout out to Ohana Cupcake Company and Susan McKenna for providing some tasty treats for the day. Thank you to Eve and Dean Faucett for their donations of skin care and health products give away and K & L Products and Tracey Batten for the beautiful dish towels. Jamba Juice also was along for the ride complete with smoothie coupons; Tanya Shaffer for her beautiful home grown fruit; Coffee Bean Leaf and Tea – Carmel Valley for the donation of hot chocolate and coffee for our Sponsors and volunteers at the loading area; our Dance Hearts Director Doug Bakan for tickets to the Lakers games; Mark Tackleberry and American Assets Inc for the Lomas Santa Fe storage space; and there are so many more, just in the day to day like our volunteer shoppers and greeters. This project can only come together without the help of those mentioned here, and those that may not have mentioned.

Visit our Bells of Freedom FB page at to post your remembrances, thoughts and comments about the event.

Please spread the word about Dance Hearts/Bells of Freedom. Dance Hearts/Bells of Freedom has no paid Principles, Directors, Staff or Volunteers. 100% of donated funds earmarked for emergency care or the Big Thank You goes directly to the families we serve. 98% of donated funds earmarked for general fund goes to the military families we serve.

Learn more about The Big Thank You here. Have something to share about the day, the overall campaign or otherwise?  Please leave a comment below.

Photo Highlights: The Big Thank You 2016