Picnic to support troops draws a record turnout

By Gary Alan Ruse….

Pictured (l-r) are Shirley Herndon, vice president of Sunstate Bank; Freddie Ambrose; Leif Gunderson of Sunstate Bank; Louise Lockwood, Chris Himmel, former aide to Carlos Alvarez; Jay Lockwood, husband of Louise Lockwood, and Cutler Bay Vice Mayor Ernie Sochin.

A local public service organization’s fourth annual picnic to support the troops on Saturday, June 25, at the U.S. Coast Guard Station at 16001 SW 117 Ave., drew a record crowd in spite of a few showers.

“Although Thinking of You Services has been holding this picnic for several years this one was the most well attended, with over 230 people,” said Freddie Ambrose, the event organizer. “Throughout the hot summer afternoon guests were able to enjoy music of the Seizurely and Mosquito Heads bands. Some also watched softball played by teams from the PBSA league until a thun-derstorm interrupted the matches.

“Nevertheless the Mosquito Heads continued playing and everyone gathered inside the pavilion to take shelter, eat and participate in exciting raffles.”

The yearly picnic, a fundraising event that the non-profit organization uses to collect care package items to send free of charge to U.S. military personnel who are serving overseas, was a joint effort of Thinking of You Services and the Cutler Bay Concerned Citizens Group.

“The food was good and served with enthusiasm and a smile,” said Janet Shipes, a resident of Cutler Bay. “The bands were great and people supported the troops with good cheer. This has been one of the best picnics.”

Lorraine Whitehead, who came in from New York with her husband Stanley, also was pleased with the event.

“The music was great, the people friendly and it was for a great cause,” Whitehead said. “I would do it again, if possible.”

Cutler Bay Vice Mayor Ernie Sochin attended the picnic and had praise for it and the efforts of the Ambroses.

“It’s a great thing,” Sochin said. “The cause is a good one and the bands were great. Alfie Sergio’s son has a group, Seizurely, and these kids are as good as I’ve heard. I brought a bunch of stuff for the care packages and I saw that other people did, too. I hope they get an even bigger turnout next year.”

Freddie Ambrose and his wife, Sonia, began Thinking of You Services in 2004 by sending cards to those in the service so no one would feel neglected at mail call, and discovered that military personnel overseas often needed personal care items they could not easily get. That’s when the care package program started.

“We would like to thank our sponsors Maduro and Associates and Cutler Auto Repair as well as all our hardworking volunteers who helped to make this a successful venture,” Freddie Ambrose said. “A special thanks also goes out to Winston D. Munnings, who photographed the event. We are glad it all turned out so well and we are looking forward to continuing to support all those men and women who are helping to maintain our freedom.”

Ambrose said that if you know of someone overseas, in the Middle East or other areas, who needs a care package, send their name and APO or FPO address to <defi9@msn.com> and he’ll send one on its way.

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