Local woman heads up holiday project for servicemen and women

  • Written by Deborah Stone
The USS Abraham Lincoln, a Nimitz-class supercarrier for the Navy, is a floating city with a population of 5,500 sailors.

Based in Everett, the ship boasts most of the same amenities you’d find in any American town, including a post office with its own zip code, T.V. and radio station, newspaper, fire department, library, hospital, general store, barbershop and more.

What it doesn’t have, however, is someone to handle a campaign for the holidays.

Enter June Collins-McKiernan, mother of Petty Officer Jede Payton, one of the sailors aboard the Lincoln.

The local woman, who has been involved with Support Our Troops for the past two years, contacted the lieutenant commander of the ship to see if anyone was planning to head up a holiday card and gift project for the sailors.

“He told me that no one was doing anything,” says Collins-McKiernan. “I just couldn’t let that happen and decided to take action. I wanted to do something along the same line as Support Our Troops, an organization which sends cards and gift packages to various troops in the armed forces during the holiday season, as well as at various other times of the year.” She adds, “Most of the sailors on the Lincoln are single and in less than a month the ship will be deployed, which means they will be far away from their homes and families for the holidays.

“I didn’t want any of them thinking that no one’s out there for them. They need to feel supported, especially over the holidays.”

Collins-McKiernan hopes to get as many people as she can to sign cards and/or donate money so she can purchase some approved gifts for the sailors such as coffee, hard candy, footballs, books, CDs and DVDs.

She has been trying to get the word out in the community and is trying to encourage local civic groups to initiate a card signing project or fundraiser.

She will be hand delivering everything to the ship before Thanksgiving.

“I want to make sure the cards and gifts get there before the ship is deployed,” she explains.

Collins-McKiernan’s son has been with the Navy for three years and works in special ops. She is a proud military mom, who understands that what her son does saves lives.

“He’s good at what he does,” she comments. “But, I’m a mother, which means I have the normal fears you have when you have kids. I just want him to be safe.

“I know I can’t stand between him and harm’s way, so I try and support him in other ways, like sending him cards and gifts and letting him know that I love him and that I’m thinking of him.”

Collins-McKiernan realizes that not every sailor aboard the Lincoln has someone who cares about them and who will take the time to let them know that they are thought of during the holiday season.

“That’s why this project is so important to me,” she adds. “And I hope that others will join me in this worthwhile effort.”

Those interested in helping to ensure a warm holiday season for the sailors aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln can contact June Collins-McKiernan at (425)  408-3900.

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