Group Offers Comfort, Hope to Fighting Marines
San Diego Union Tribune | Written by Linda McIntosh
CAMP PENDLETON – In the barracks, the women were putting red, white and blue goodie bags on pillows for returning Marines. Not just a few bags, but 700. They were filled with candies and a welcome-home message rolled up in a little scroll and tied with a yellow ribbon. The message began, “Dear Marine, There’s no place like home. Welcome back to America.” At the end was a short Bible verse and the message, “We care about you.”
It’s not the first time Cynthia Martinez and her volunteer team of friends and family have reached out to Marines at Camp Pendleton. Martinez has been set on supporting troops and their families since the first deployments to Afghanistan after 9/11.
“I’ve got two sons the age of these young men, and God put a passion in my heart to reach out to the troops,” said Martinez, whose husband is a retired Army sergeant.
Martinez, who lives in San Clemente, has rounded up support from community leaders, civic groups, businesses and church groups, in the San Clemente area and other communities north of the base. For her efforts, Martinez was named one of six “Women of the Year 2005” last month by Sen. Bill Morrow for the 38th Senatorial District, which includes north San Diego County and south Orange County.
In December, Martinez helped collect more than 200 toys for two Christmas parties for Camp Pendleton children, and then sent pictures of the people who supported the toy drive to the children’s dads, or moms, serving in Iraq. “We just wanted to show them that the community cares about them,” said Martinez, founder of Words of Comfort, Hope and Promise.
The nonprofit group is set on bringing comfort and encouragement to the troops. Not just in words, but in deeds, with care packages for deployed Marines and gift baskets and gift certificates for their wives left behind. For Valentines Day, Martinez and a group of volunteers sent care packages with hundreds of home-baked cookies to two companies in the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Division.
Last month she coordinated a recognition dinner for about 20 wounded Marines. “I was so honored to shake their hands and give them the “Certificate of Appreciation” Martinez said.
One of her biggest projects was sending her book, “America in Crisis” to 4,000 Marines in Iraq two years ago. The book talks about the power of prayer and includes prayers for the troops and the nation.
“I heard of people living in fear of the terrorists threats, and I wanted to bring comfort,” Martinez said. Martinez felt inspired to write the book after 9/11 and to reach out to the troops in tangible ways.
“What’s special is she’s focused on both the troops and us wives staying behind,” said Lisa Wright, whose husband is in one of the divisions supported by Martinez’s group. “Her heart is so full of wanting to do this.” For information about Martinez’s nonprofit organizations, Words of Comfort, Hope and Promise, go to www.comforthopeandpromise.org or call (949) 637-7615.
April 2, 2005