On Sunday, December 2, 2018 our caravan of motorcyclists, UPS trucks, and donor and volunteer vehicles lead by Santa, in a red antique Mercedes (courtesy of Bob Gunthrop and the Antique Automobile Club of America) arrived at our venue on Camp Pendleton greeted by more than 100 Marine and Navy families lining the street, with exuberant waves and smiles. This welcome had our donors and volunteers in tears and hearts full. It was just the beginning of an Amazing “The Big Thank You 2018” event.
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, precision and without hesitation. Thank you to FRO Sgt. Lillian Landwehr, FRO Toni Ramirez, SSgt Ryan Cronin, and Dennis Flores for doing ‘double duty’ with all that they have going on every day, to help us daily for three months to get ready for this event. This includes nominating families, looking for and providing a venue, securing entry for our more than 82 autos (yes, we counted) and arranging that 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 provided 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.
The drawing, next to the offload of the military family gifts from the UPS semi’s, is one of the most anticipated parts of the event. Because of our generous donors and sponsors, we were able to ‘give away’ ten (10) hotel getaways that included a one night stay, a $200.00 VISA debit card, and a local attraction (play tickets, movie tickets, wine tasting); four (4) Disneyland packages including Disneyland ticket for a family of four, a $200.00 VISA debit card, and an overnight stay; four (4) Legoland packages including Legoland tickets for a family of four and a $100.00 VISA debit card; six (6) $200.00 Target Shopping Sprees and much more.
We would like to thank our friends at The Tamarack Beach Resort, The Grand Pacific Palisades Hotel and the Cape Rey at Carlsbad Beach, the Embassy Suites Temecula for their donation of one night stays for our Marine and Navy families. Thanks also goes out to Mark Tackleberry and American Assets Inc for the Carmel Country storage space, Rotisserie Affair for the delicious gourmet lunch served to the more than 800 people in attendance. 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 2018