Most Fridays, you will see out-of-towners in Beaufort, South Carolina, proudly celebrating with their recent graduates from Parris Island, the Marine Corps Recruit Depot. These families from across the country come to watch their sons and daughters graduate after 13 intense weeks of boot camp. What you do not see are the new Marines that pack their bags after graduation alone, without family or friends, and quietly board a bus for the train station or airport.
This stirred Jennifer Iddins, the wife of a Drill Instructor into taking action and creating the Stand Alone Marines Project. Jennifer organized parents of recruits through a message board. They brought donations to Beaufort the Thursday night before graduation assembling the bags at a restaurant. The bags contain a variety of treats (such as gift cards, phone cards, neck pillows) and are given along with hugs and congratulations to each new Marine that does not have anyone present at the ceremony.
Sarah Schoen, a new volunteer and wife of a Marine reported, “The first Marine I congratulated was bursting as we talked about what he had gone through, and what lay ahead. When I asked him what made him become a Marine, he answered that his father told him he would never amount to anything. When his father passed away, he wanted to prove he could.”
These new Marines are so grateful for the small tokens that the SAM (Stand Alone Marine) Bags contain. Sharing the triumph of their success with someone who is willing to listen and offers a hug for congratulations, makes all the difference.We are so grateful for Jennifer, Sarah and the other volunteers for making sure our Marines do not stand-alone.God bless these new recruits.