Civil servant, shining star
For Henderson, Nev., City Councilwoman Debra March, the term “community,” of course, refers the 270,000 residents of her fair city. But as a military mom, March says the word also includes many military families nationwide. March is a Blue Star Mother, and, thanks to her outreach and fundraising efforts with the city council, March’s two communities have come together for a common cause – supporting U.S. troops and their families.
This month, as they do each year, resident volunteers will converge on the Henderson Civic Center to help March and the members of the Blue Star Mothers of Henderson and Boulder City chapter in stitching and stuffing over 1,000 stockings for U.S. troops.
“The Blue Star Mothers of Henderson and Boulder City had prepared holiday stockings for our troops the year prior to my joining the city council; it was a smaller effort,” March recalls. “After I joined the city council I was able to make the Blue Star Mothers and this holiday effort for our troops a priority for the city.”
In her new position, March became a mouthpiece for the Mothers, encouraging donations and soliciting funds.
“We not only brought it up at meetings, we engaged the community and brought the media in to cover it,” March says. “We made resources available, like the civic center, and volunteers and government employees joined in to volunteer or participate in fundraising and assembly.”
Soon, donation locations began popping up on Water Street, schools and residents were volunteering time, and the local government set aside funds to assist with shipping costs. Hotels and casinos began donating toiletries. Private citizens donated fabric. And March’s colleagues in the public sector began a pool – $5 in the “kitty” to wear jeans to work.
Students and seniors also joined the cause. Each year, stockings are hand-stitched by Henderson seniors from Heritage Senior Center and Sun City Anthem. Once collected, stockings are taken to the Civic Center, and “stuffed” – often by school groups – with items collected from donation boxes throughout the city.
It’s an annual labor of love; one that March says fulfills the Blue Star mission of providing “support for active duty service personnel, promoting patriotism, assisting veterans organizations and serving in homeland efforts.”
“Wherever there’s a need,” March says. “If someone had a family member that wanted a stocking, they can reach out to us. Not one of those men or women serving to protect our great nation should have to go through the holidays feeling like no one is thinking about them.”
March, her fellow Mothers and the residents of Henderson rally around American heroes, including March’s son. David was featured in John Quinones’ book, Heroes Among Us. The chapter, “Honor and Duty,” is dedicated to his service.
March is modest with regard to David’s accomplishments, but says his service, civic service and the service of all military personnel and their families, is rewarding. And the residents of Henderson are exemplars of service.
“It’s gratifying personally when you do something outside of yourself – something you don’t have to do, something you choose to do,” March says. “When people give back and volunteer, it allows them to connect with each other in a way they might not have otherwise.”
To submit a stocking or other donation, visit Henderson's Website.