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A family from 1st Maintenance Battalion enjoys Christmas lights and decorations from the comfort of their vehicle during the battalion’s Winter Wonderland drive-thru event at Camp Pendleton, California, Dec. 22, 2020. Marines and civilians from 1st Maintenance Battalion volunteer by bringing Christmas spirit to the battalion’s families providing turkeys, gifts and other Christmas goodies to raise morale within the unit during the challenges of COVID-19 over the holidays.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Kristy Ordonez Maldonado

1st Maintanance Battalion Winter Wonderland

30 Dec 2020 | Lance Cpl. Joel Riveracamacho 1st Marine Logistics Group

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Marines are known for spreading holiday cheer, but if you had to spread cheer in the middle of a pandemic, what would you do? From six feet away, and a face mask of course!

Marines and Sailors of 1st Maintenance Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, hosted a Winter Wonderland drive-through event Dec. 22, 2020. The Winter Wonderland drive-through event was open to service members and their families of the unit in order to spread holiday cheer in a safe manner amid the Covid-19 pandemic. As a safety precaution, this event was strictly drive-thru and included several different stations where participants were directed from their vehicles. 

“This event has been done in the past, however, using COVID mitigation procedures, we had to change the method in which we hosted the event this year,” said Maj. Nicholas Harwood, Operations Officer, 1st Maintenance Bn., 1st MLG. ”Last year, Marines, Sailors and their families all gathered in a large warehouse to enjoy a holiday meal together, participate in arts and crafts and children received presents from Santa.”

To reduce the amount of contact between the volunteers, participants and their families, maintaining social distancing, the unit decided a drive-thru event was necessary. According to Harwood, the unit was able to provide holiday meals, the opportunity for children to decorate and color their own stockings and concluded with Santa and Mrs. Clause wishing families a Merry Christmas.

At one station families received turkeys for their holiday dinner provided by the United Service Organization (USO). At another station, volunteers filled the trunks of their vehicles with children’s toys, books, and educational items. Families were also provided snacks such as popcorn and hot cocoa that were offered by the volunteers. At the end of the event, families were given the choice to get their pictures with Santa and Mrs. Clause from the comfort of their cars, while everyone wears a face mask.

Before leaving the event, families would navigate their way through a “Winter Wonderland,” a rolling bay used by motor transport mechanics which was decorated with Christmas lights and decorations, fake snow to end their magical experience. 

“We have noticed that when morale is boosted in service members and their families that we see an increased work effort from the Marines and Sailors and a reduction in issues outside of the workplace.” said Harwood.  “Overall, we see positive impacts stemming from these events which increases the readiness of 1st Maintenance Battalion.”

All in all, the event allowed for a safe, yet fun approach for 1st Maintenance Battalion to spread holiday cheer to the unit and their families through a slightly modified holiday celebration, due the challenges Covid-19 created. The unit succeeded in maintaining the required safety measures to prevent the spread of the virus and keep the families safe.

(U.S. Marine Corps Story by Lance Cpl. Joel RiveraCamacho)

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