TAYLOR, Mich., Dec. 5, 2016 - More than 100 Simon Group Holdings and Atlas Oil team members hosted 2,600 United States military service men and women and their families on Sunday, Dec. 4, at Selfridge Air National Guard Base (SANGB), at its 10th annual event.
"It gives us great joy to host this family Christmas celebration for our military. It's the least we can do to show these courageous and selfless men and women how much we appreciate our freedom and their service," said Simon Group Holdings Founder and Chairman Sam Simon. "We have the best trained and smartest military in the world and we can't take them for granted."
Selfridge Air National Guard Base is home to the 127th Wing and hosts more than 40 tenant organizations on base. Therefore, members of every military branch serve at the base and were represented. Brigadier General John Slocum said, "We always look forward to this celebration. It's an opportunity for the great men and women who tirelessly sacrifice so much get an opportunity to pause for a moment and enjoy great company, music, food, and generous recognition."
In 2006, two retired Navy SEALs, who were retained to train Atlas team members, were having lunch with Simon, and received a call from a Selfridge sergeant. An entire unit, 200 Marines, were being deployed three weeks before Christmas. Unfortunately, while the Base wanted to give the Marines a sendoff, it wasn't in the budget. When Simon heard this, he told the former SEALs to call the sergeant back and tell him that they would do it – he, his wife Nada, and their Atlas team would provide an appropriate celebration for the Marines and their families.
Every year since, the Simons and their team members have received permission to host a December holiday party for military personnel with the event growing each year. "Christmas is about time with family and friends, and it's especially about the children. We're so happy we can bring military families together for a few hours each December to have fun with each other and to express our gratitude," Sam Simon said.
Activities include skee ball and miniature race car games; a bounce house; holiday crafts; lunch; music and dancing; and of course a visit by Santa Claus.
In addition to the festivities, toys were collected for the Marine Toys for Tots program. Marine Staff Sergeant Jimmy Pineda oversees the Southeast Michigan program, and is based at Selfridge. In 2015, the Marines distributed 120,000 toys to 30,000 local needy children, with help from generous sponsors and the community.