Airmen Use Logistics Skills to Relieve Toy Donation Stockpile

Pennsylvania Air National Guardsmen Airman 1st Class Igor Karlov, left, and Master Sgt. Joe Sommers  at a Toys for Tots warehouse. (Pennsylvania Air National Guard/Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)
Pennsylvania Air National Guardsmen Airman 1st Class Igor Karlov, left, and Master Sgt. Joe Sommers at a Toys for Tots warehouse. (Pennsylvania Air National Guard/Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

HORSHAM AIR GUARD STATION, Pa. — Eight airmen from the Pennsylvania Air National Guard's 111th Logistics Readiness Squadron used brain, brawn and a little military training to overhaul a congested Toys for Tots warehouse in Glenside, Pennsylvania, a few days before Christmas.

The decision to help came from Pennsylvania Air National Guard Capt. Dan Taylor, who serves as a logistics readiness officer for the 111th Attack Wing here.

"We were making a drop off and noticed that they were inundated with donations," said Taylor. "After seeing the bottleneck, there was no way that we could leave them in that state."

Taylor rallied some of the wing's top logistics and supply technicians and led the airmen to the warehouse. According to Toys for Tots volunteer John Soghomonian, the guardsmen's few hours of labor accomplished the equivalent of days of work by overwhelmed volunteers.

Within a two-hour timeframe, the guardsmen retrieved, sorted, packaged and hauled more than 1,000 donated items.

"[Soghomonian] said that they are about 25 percent over what they normally receive and are having a hard time keeping up," said Master Sgt. Joe Sommers, 111th LRS material management flight chief. "So, while it's good that they've had so many donations, being an organization that runs solely on volunteer support, they're overwhelmed with the sheer amount of donations here."

Sommers said the influx of donations normally runs in spurts of 10,000 to 20,000 items at a time. This year, the organization saw toys coming in at a range of 13,000 to 25,000 at a time, which pushed the already-overextended volunteer team well past its current capability.

"These are good people volunteering their time to a great cause. Helping them out wasn't even a question," Taylor said. "This is was being a guardsman is about — it's about being an upright steward to the community."

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