Candace’s Region Rotary Round-Up: Operation Christmas at Sea

Candace’s Region Rotary Round-Up: Operation Christmas at Sea

Candace’s Rotary Round-Up
Rotary is a global network of 1.2 million neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem solvers who come together to make positive, lasting change in communities at home and abroad. Over the years, Rotarians have taken on global causes ranging from literacy and peace to water and health.

Many local initiatives are happening right around us! Scholarships for high school students, cleaning up of local parks, and gifts of time, talent and treasure to a wide variety of nonprofit organizations are all the foundation of the Club’s motto: “Service Above Self.”

I joined the efforts of the Chesterton-Porter Rotary Club as a way to give back to the community I grew up in. Today, I bring you the Region’s Rotary Round-Up as a way to shine a light on all the great things happening at Clubs in and around Northwest Indiana!

Here’s your Rotary Recap:
Founded June 17, 1944, the Rotary Club of La Porte (RCLP) is one of the oldest service clubs in La Porte. Year round, the group aims to make their city a better place to live, work, and play by taking on initiatives ranging from bell ringing for the Salvation Army over the holidays to improving Craven Pond and maintaining the Rotary Gazebo Flower Garden.

On Monday October 8, the club welcomed guest speaker Blair Milo, Secretary of Career Connections and Talent at the State of Indiana, to relay information about a very special initiative, “Operation Christmas at Sea”. It’s pretty well known that prior to her roles in public service, Secretary Milo served as a Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy and this cause definitely hits close to home.

“This was born from a conversation that I got to have with a former shipmate of mine, Greg Grubbs," Milo shared. "We originally met while stationed on the USS Mason together and we became thick as thieves. I had a chance to visit with him a couple months ago and Greg shared that he is going to be deploying as the Executive Officer of the USS Arlington in mid-November this year just before the holidays.”

Milo and Grubbs experienced a similar deployment together, leaving in September and being away until the end of April, so they missed Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. Secretary Milo said, “It’s nice to have your ship family there and to build relationships; [Greg] was my ship brother, but no matter what, you miss home during those time periods and it’s pretty difficult.”

At the time they were deployed, Blair’s mother, Fran Milo, with the help of Bethany Lutheran Church, was able to provide shoe boxes filled with Christmas gifts for about 300 soldiers aboard the USS Mason.

“When I chatted with Greg and I heard that he is going to be headed out, I thought it was so meaningful to us on our deployment that it would be great if we can do that again!” Milo said.

Built out of steel from the World Trade Center, the USS Arlington will embark on its maiden voyage with approximately 300 Navy sailors and 700 Marines aboard.

“The steel is incorporated in the body of the ship, so it is literally a projection of power coming from the ashes of the rubble," Milo said. "It’s incredible to see this ship and what it stands for!”

At the end of the meeting, club member Michael Bober presented the club with a check for $1,000 on behalf of his employer Centier Bank to help kick off the Operation Christmas at Sea campaign!

The Rotary Club of La Porte is asking for the community’s help to make these soldiers' holiday season special by putting together Christmas shoe boxes filled with practical and fun items to remind them of home. See below for a suggested list of items.

Final collection of boxes will be Veteran’s Day, November 11. Cash donations are also welcome to help with the purchase of supplies and postage. A personal message from you is also welcome!

The Rotary Club of La Porte meets Mondays at 12:00 PM at the Best Western La Porte Hotel and Conference Center, 444 Pine Lake Ave La Porte, IN 46350. Interested in joining a Rotary Club near you? Send me an email: and I’ll help connect you!

Suggested Items for Operation Christmas at Sea

  • Notebook, pens, pencil
  • Comic books, books, magazines
  • Stationary or cards
  • Ziplock baggies
  • Prepaid phone cards
  • AA and AAA batteries
  • Small flashlight
  • Puzzle books, deck of cards, games
  • Personal hygiene items


Food/candy (no chocolate)

  • Small fruit cups (pop top lids)
  • Pop tarts
  • Granola bars
  • Mints, gum, other hard candies
  • Cheese/peanut butter crackers
  • Instant oatmeal packets
  • Tea bags, instant coffee
  • Ramen Noodles