The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program wrapped up another successful year of collecting new, unwrapped toys for less fortunate children in the local community and surrounding counties.
The primary goal of the Toys for Tots Program is to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters, which aims at assisting them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens, according to Gunnery Sgt. Ernest Thompson, coordinator, Toys for Tots Program.
The Marine reservists kicked off the 2013 Toys for Tots campaign, Oct. 1, 2013, aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, with a goal of 15,000 toys.
“During the 2013 campaign, 17,000 toys were collected and $3,000 was donated to the cause,” Thompson said. “The program helped approximately 3,000 children locally. We donated about 2,000 toys to the Salvation Army in Thomasville, Georgia, which were given out to more than 500 families.”
Business members and communities’ residents donated 12,000 toys and Thompson purchased 5,000 more toys from $3,000 in funds received from the public.
“During the 2012 campaign, 15,000 toys were collected and $5,000 was donated to the cause,” Thompson said. “That year’s program helped approximately 3,400 children locally.”
According to Thompson, although monetary donations were down by $2,000, the Toys for Tots Program exceeded its goal by about 2,000 more toys and assisted more than 100 families compared to the 2012 campaign.
Outfitted in their dress blue uniforms, Marine reservists from Detachment 2, Supply Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 453, 4th Marine Logistics Group, Marine Forces Reserve, collected toys from 400 drop boxes distributed in Albany and throughout the surrounding area.
Noting the Toys for Tots program is the largest outreach program in the Department of Defense, Thompson said the Marine reservists distributed toys to families in Dougherty, Lee, Worth, Mitchell, Sumter, Thomas, Colquitt and Terrell counties, Dec. 14, 2013.
“Thanks to the outpouring of support from the local community and surrounding counties, we had enough toys to give three to five per child,” Gunnery Sgt. Johnny R. Ruby, assistant coordinator, Toys for Tots, said.
About 90 Marine reservists and 30 volunteers, including active-duty Marines, Sailors and their families, civilian-Marines and contractors worked together throughout the campaign with one common goal, to brighten a child’s Christmas, according to Ruby.
Thompson said the reservists participated in 22 events throughout the campaign and assisted in one event as far south as Tallahassee, Fla.
The events included a golf tournament, Albany’s Celebration of Lights Parade and a Stuff the Truck at Walmart.
Thompson said it has been a good year for the Toys for Tots Program in Albany, Ga.
“It was gratifying to know that what we were doing was for a good cause,” Thompson said. “Everyone involved, whether it was giving toys, donating money or volunteering, made this happen.”
Thompson said the community support is what makes the program what it is today.
“I believe every child should have at least one present to open on Christmas Day,” Thompson said. “Without the support of the local community and surrounding counties, many children might not have had a present to open. This just goes to show the giving spirit of the community.
“It was a blessing to get to see the smiles on the faces of those who picked the toys,” he added. “It’s an awesome feeling to know that you had a hand in giving a child a Christmas or better Christmas.”
Thompson said plans for the 2014 Toys for Tots campaign are underway.