The Marine Corps League, Detachment 708 located on Sunshine Grove Road in Brooksville is a group of men and women dedicated to serving fellow veterans and the community at large. They do this in a number of ways.
Most people are familiar with the Toys for Tots campaign that is sponsored by the Marine Corps League nationwide. Our local detachment works hard each holiday season to make sure that hundreds of children get presents – sometimes the only ones they will receive. Collection boxes are set up in local businesses and anyone can place new toys in the box. Marine Corps League members pick up the gifts periodically and take them to a central sorting and distribution location. Last year Diamond Real Estate on north U.S. 19 was the sorting and distribution center. The response from the community, as well as the requests for presents was record-breaking.
Jim Heid, Senior Vice Commandant of Detachment 708 commented, “At one particular location I had on Route 50 they collected so many toys that I had to empty their boxes every day.”
Brad Bennett, the detachment's Judge Advocate added, “We had so many [parents] show up [at the distribution point] that we had to have deputies directing traffic.”
Detachment 708 also works with The Young Marines. This group is made up of young men and women ages eight to eighteen who may be interested in joining the military.
“They use our facility for a lot of their training and do overnight camp outs here. We send them on regular trips. For example, we sent them to Camp Lejeune for a three-day event. We also utilize the Young Marines for a lot of our projects, such as Toys for Tots,” Bennett remarked.
Serving as Honor Guards at veterans' funerals is one of the major services that Detachment 108 provides. A member will play “Taps” on a bugle at the funeral, others will fire a salute from their rifles. Another member will act as chaplain, say a few words and present a folded American flag to the spouse or a relative.
“Sometimes we have as many as ten [funerals] in one week or six in one day. We average about 350 per year,” Heid commented.
Marine Corps League Detachment 708 provides scholarships to students who are either serving in the military, are veterans or relatives of veterans.
Heid explained, “We try to accommodate everyone who applies. Last year we gave out about twenty scholarships averaging $300-$500 each. The Ladies Auxiliary has fundraisers such as raffles to raise the money. There's a collection bottle in the bar here where people can contribute money.”
Bennett added, “At our annual ball in November celebrating the birthday of the Marine Corps we sell or auction off photographs and other items and use the proceeds for the scholarships.”
Detachment 708 serves veterans in other ways as well. Through the DD-214 fund they collect money for veterans in need. DD-214 refers to the discharge papers a person in the military receives when he or she leaves active duty. For example, a couple of weeks ago a veteran that had lost his job came in for help. His wife had left him and he had three children to care for. He was about to lose his home and his car. The detachment gave him money to get back on his feet and helped him find a job.
One of their members, Dave Harris runs a program called “I will stand.” He goes to schools, senior citizens centers and other places and gives a presentation on why we should stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem.
Although active membership in the Marine Corps League is restricted somewhat, anyone can take part in most social activities at their center. They serve breakfasts lunches, and dinners and have a full bar and grill. The detachment sponsors Bingo, Karaoke and Trivia nights and special events throughout the year. They also rent out the social hall for weddings and other occasions. The proceeds of their fundraising activities at the center support all the wonderful things they are doing in the community and for our veterans.
Detachment 708 personifies the motto of the Marine Corps - “Semper Fidelis” (Always Faithful) in its service to our veterans and our community.
FIND OUT MORE:
Their Facebook Page is updated regularly with various activities: @MCL708
8405 Sunshine Grove Rd
Brooksville, Florida 34613
Phone: (352) 597-7979