Chicago’s Christmas Ship – The Committee Who Makes It Happen

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written by Lt. Lindsay Cook

The holiday season is a time for enjoying family, friends, setting new resolutions and for some it’s an opportunity to give back. Whether it’s a random act of kindness, participating in a toy drive, or making an anonymous donation to your favorite charity, sharing with others is the heart of the Christmas season.

This year the personnel of the Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw and Marine Safety Unit Chicago had the privilege of working alongside the Chicago’s Christmas Ship Committee; a committee who works year round to facilitate the delivery of 1,200 Christmas trees to families in Chicago who don’t have a tree..

A Christmas without a Christmas tree is difficult to envision, but it’s the reality for some families in the Chicagoland area.

“We were appalled that there were many families in Chicago who have never had a Christmas tree,” said Capt. Dave Truitt, the founding member of the committee.

The Christmas Ship Committee, a branch of the U.S. Navy League, works relentlessly each year to fill this need. This premeditated act of benevolence has become a time-honored tradition in Chicago and an inspiration to the community.

S. McKinley Community Services presents a Christmas tree to the recipient family.

S. McKinley Community Services presents a Christmas tree to the recipient family.

Each year, the committee partners with Ada S. McKinley Community Services to select a family to receive a tree during the event’s ceremony. Imagine seeing a child on stage receiving his very first Christmas tree. It’s an experience that will bring tears to your eyes and joy to your heart.

The Chicago’s Christmas Ship Committee was founded in 2000 by members of the Chicago’s maritime community. Currently, there are nine members of the committee who are directly responsible for making this event happen each year, which is no easy feat.

The committee members are: Capt. Dave Truitt, Capt. Sonny Lisowski, Capt. George Lisner, Capt. William Glynn, Lloyd Karzen, George Kisiel, Steve Evenstad, Bob Bied and Grant Crowley.

This time of year, it’s easy to get distracted, or even burdened, by the chaos of the season and the high expectations of family and friends.

May the simple gift of a Christmas tree inspire you to positively impact a coworker, friend or stranger.

U.S. Coast Guard Capt. John Little, Capt. William Glynn, George Kisiel, Lloyd Karzen, Cmdr. Ryan Manning, Bob Bied, Grant Crowley, Capt. Dave Truitt, Capt. George Lisner, Capt. Sonny Lisowski, Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Dooris, and Steve Evenstad.

U.S. Coast Guard Capt. John Little, Capt. William Glynn, George Kisiel, Lloyd Karzen, Cmdr. Ryan Manning, Bob Bied, Grant Crowley, Capt. Dave Truitt, Capt. George Lisner, Capt. Sonny Lisowski, Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Dooris, and Steve Evenstad.

“It doesn’t take much, but for those of who can, should,” said Truitt.

The Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw annually serves as the Christmas Ship, delivering 1,200 Christmas Trees to Chicago, for a two-day re-enactment of what was an annual Chicago tradition in the late 1800s and early 1900s. As the local U.S. Coast Guard unit, Marine Safety Unit Chicago assists with coordinating logistics and providing whatever support is needed for the event.

For more information about Chicago’s Christmas Ship, please visit www.Christmasship.org

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