On September 10th, 2016, Military Appreciation Day (MAD) hosted Active Duty troops and their families from all over the state. They represented all 5 branches of our Armed Forces – Air Force from Seymour Johnson AFB in Goldsboro, Army from Ft Bragg in Fayetteville, Marines from the Camp Lejeune/Cherry Point area up near Jacksonville, Navy from Wilmington (did you know we had Navy so close?) and the Coast Guard from Oak Island and Wrightsville.
In the end, we hosted about 140 troops and 67 family members (Adults and Children) who joined them to take advantage of the family activities. It was our 10th year, and our largest event ever. Staging this event is no small feat. We are 100% volunteer- not one paid person at any level and we are 100% donor supported. That means we rely on the generosity of the community, both in terms of volunteer time, cash, goods and services – all needed to bring the troops and their families a truly world-class event.
So what does a MAD event look like? The troops start arriving on Saturday morning at about 5 AM.That means that most leave their respective posts and bases between 2:30 and 3 AM! For the next couple of hours they are matched with their Captains and head out for a day of fishing on the water. Ashore, we entertain families and prepare a huge picnic for troops, families, Captains and crew. At the picnic, which this year included live entertainment by our very own Linda Snyder (Thank you!), we gave out wonderful door prizes donated by local businesses. There is absolutely no charge. That’s how we show our One, Simple Thanks to our troops and families. Some very special Thank-you’s
Thank you City of Southport – Mayor Dove, Board of Aldermen, Randy Jones at Tourism and Heather and Cookie at Parks and Recreation – thanks for supporting us this year. Thank you especially for proclaiming the 2nd Saturday of every September as City of Southport Military Appreciation Day. Thank you South Brunswick High School JROTC – A special thanks to Colonel Thomas Blue and the fine young men and women who presented the colors with such precision and dignity. This is their second year honoring us.
Thank you Fishing Community – This is first and foremost a fishing event. Some 73 boat Captains volunteered their boats, crews, bait, tackle and fuel to provide a memorable day to our richly deserving troops. You constantly amaze me with your dedication and support of this event. Not to mention, y’all caught a bunch of fish!
Thank you Volunteers – It took nearly 80 of you to pull this event off! From set-up on Friday morning to tear-down on Saturday night, from 5 AM to 9 PM, you did it all. You decorated, prepared and cooked two meals plus snacks; literally serving hundreds, and then cleaned up afterwards. You helped coordinate the boats, guided the troops, cleaned the catch and entertained the families. You did it all with a welcoming smile. I would be remiss if I didn’t call out Ginny and Jerry Hrabica, Charlene Parsell, Kerri Trayah and our fund-raising team of Chris Schnell, Jim Hedgecock and David Call for their incredible efforts on behalf of our service men and women. What a team!
Thank You Southport Marina – To Hank Whitley, Eric King and the marina staff – By its very nature, MAD makes a lot of demands on the facility. For months leading up to the event, Eric is often heard to say; “Here comes Pomeranz, I wonder what he wants now?”. The reality is that you constantly ask what we need, meet those needs and then turn the marina over to us for two days to use the facility as we see fit…as your contribution to our service members and their families. You folks are a treasure.
Last, but certainly not least, Thank you Donors – We had two challenges this year: 1) Grow the event to include more troops and family opportunities while 2) becoming our own Chapter of MAD (there are 5 chapters) and therefore becoming fully responsible for our own fundraising. Well, you all made it possible to reach our goals!
I don’t exaggerate when I say that never before has our community been as generous as it was this year. Private citizens wrote checks, about 100 businesses and civic organizations contributed cash, donated goods and services and volunteered. Of those, the vast majority are right here in Brunswick County – Southport, Oak Island, Boiling Spring Lakes, Bolivia, Leland, Shallotte! Finally, I live in Southport and am very proud of our city and all the supporting communities here in our county. We don’t just talk the talk but demonstrate our appreciation in a very real way. Our troops deserve nothing less. As our MAD motto states, I offer you my heartfelt One, Simple Thanks.
For privacy I do not list private donations but you know who you are. In alphabetical order, here is a list of Businesses and Civic Organizations who contributed so generously (any errors or mistakes of omission are mine):
American Fish Co. Boatyard BB&T Beachin’ Day Spa/Tideline Nails Beana’s Kitchen Bella Cucina Bells Supply Inc BEMC Better Beach Rentals Blackbarry Enterprises BSL VFW Post 10400 Burney’s Bakery Calcutta Cape Fear Jewelers Carolina Decals Carolina Yacht Care Carr Insurance and Realty Chasers Sports Bar and Grill Clem’s Seafood Coastline Catering Comfort Suites Costco Cox Quality Home Furnishings Dentelle Fine Lingerie Boutique Doodles Dosher Memorial Hospital Downtown Southport Inc Dry Street Pub Duke Energy Dutchman Creek Bait and Tackle Eric’s Grille First Bank Food Lion Geddings and Kleva, PLLC Haraway Real Estate Hardees High Tide Helicopters INA Oil Jazzy Jane’s Boutique John Azzato, MD, P.C. Jones Seafood House Josephs Italian Bistro Kimball’s Furniture Knights of Columbus Kopp Bros, Inc (DBA Kopps Kwik Stop Korman’s Signs Local’s Family Diner Loco Jo’s Lois Janes B&B Long Bay Artificial Reef Assn Inc Lowes Foods Lowe’s Home Improvement Lowrance Mansfield Brothers Gas Mansfield Brothers Heating and Air Martin’s Auto Rebuilders, Inc McDonalds Mr. P’s Bistro Oak Island Accommodations/Town Vacations Oak Island, LLC Oak Island Bar-B-Que House Oak Island Deli and Pub Oak Island Express Lube Oak Island Golf Club Oak Island Moose Lodge 2059 Oak Island Sporting Goods Oak Island Sub Shop Ocean Outfitters Old Bridge Diner Oliver’s on the Cape fear Party Time Pharmacy Restaurant Piggly Wiggly Port City Java Ports of Call Restaurant Renee’s Fine Jewelry Rudd Sold Inc Russell’s Place Restaurant Sam’s Club Sea Tow Shagger Jacks Shallotte Electric Side Street Bakery Side Street Cafe Signature Consultants Southport Animal Hospital Southport Marina Southport Realty, Inc Southport Smokehouse Sportsman Boats MFG Inc Sportsman’s Choice St James Fishing Club State Port Pilot Stewart’s Hardware Stifel (EJL Holdings) Tatum Construction Taylors Cuisine Thai Peppers Restaurant Tidal Merchant LLC Town of Oak Island TRIAD Saltwater Anglers Trolley Stop Wildlife Grill and Restaurant Wilmington Cape Fear Pilots Assoc
Hank Pomeranz, Event President of the Southport Military Appreciation Day Chapter.