By Kaylee LaRocque

NAS Jax Public Affairs Officer

A group of more than 65 Sailors from Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS Jax) and tenant commands brought smiles to the faces of hundreds of senior citizens during an community outreach event Dec. 19 in downtown Jacksonville. 

The annual event, sponsored and coordinated by Florida Sen. Audrey Gibson's office, had the Sailors visiting nine senior citizen centers where they delivered cookies and cocoa. 

"I have been bringing Sailors to this event for the past 10 years now as I've been stationed at various commands here," said NAS Jax Command Master Chief Jeffery Waters. "This is a great time and it's so nice to see faces light up when the Sailors bring them holiday treats and gifts. We've also visited nursing homes in the past which is wonderful because sometimes people don't have any family or friends to visit them."

Gibson says she plans several events to visit senior citizens throughout the year. "We've been doing this for many years. We've had ice cream parties, delivered fruit and socks to nursing homes and just try to get out to spread some cheer, especially during the holidays," she said. "And I'm always so grateful to our Sailors for helping out with these events."

As the Sailors passed out holiday treats, many of the senior citizens wanted to have pictures taken with them or just wanted someone to talk to for a few minutes. 

"I really love helping the elderly and wanted to give back during the holidays," said EN2 Valerie Johnson of NAS Jax. "I know some of them might be lonely and it was nice to put a smile on their faces."