By Kim Vincent
Members and their children of the American Legion Auxiliary Bradley Keffer Unit 138 in Holtville delivered Christmas cheer to veterans who reside at Blossom Valley Inn Assisted Living in the city. Nine Veterans received stockings filled with holiday cheer, including homemade and packaged Christmas goodies, socks, toiletry items, Christmas cards, and homemade patriotic pillow cases sewn by members of the Daughters of the American Revolution Desert Palm Chapter.
The veterans and auxiliary members dined on George’s Pizza, and ice cream, while visiting with one another, before the stockings were handed out. Veteran James McKenzie, a Holtville High School graduate, was drafted into the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, where he served during the battle of Iwo Jima.
McKenzie said, “It was a surprise that the (auxiliary) members brought us Christmas stockings and George’s Pizza.” U.S. Air Force veteran Ron Hennesay said, “This is a fantastic thing that you have done. It made our day. I appreciate this. Brought smiles to us.” Auxiliary member Brandy Butler could not attend the visit but sent her children, Bradyn and Brielle, who said they had a great time.
Twelve-year old Bradyn said what he enjoyed most about visiting the veterans was “I felt great. I love helping and being around the people who made America free, and keep it that way. I enjoyed being around people and pushing someone in his wheelchair that served in a military branch.”
He further added, “I would like to thank the women’s auxiliary for giving me the opportunity to do this.”
Former long-time Calipatria resident and U.S. Navy veteran Rocky Barrios, who served during the Korean conflict, said, “I appreciate all of this. This really made me happy.”
Barrios said he looks forward to going home during Christmas and New Year’s to spend time with his family.
ALA member, Sharon Burton, visited the veterans for the first time, said, “This was a great experience for me to see how many veterans are in the Blossom Valley Inn, and how appreciative they are to receive our visit and the stockings.”
Her twin sister and auxiliary member, Karen Gibbs, could not have agreed more. The sisters recognized some veterans from attending First Baptist Church of El Centro. Other Auxiliary members present were El Centro resident Heather Brachtenbach, and U.S. Navy active duty service member, Susana Saenz, and her son, Reymundo.
The group ended on a high note, singing Christian hymns, while the children followed with Christmas carols.