By Nathan L. Hanks Jr.
Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany
ALBANY, Ga., Jan. 17, 2014 – The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program here 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, according to Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Ernest Thompson, a coordinator for the Toys for Tots Program.
The Marine reservists kicked off the 2013 Toys for Tots campaign on Oct. 1, 2013, on Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany here. The goal was to collect 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.” The Marines’ Albany Toys for Tots campaign also donated about 2,000 toys to the Salvation Army in Thomasville, Ga., which were given out to more than 500 families.
Business members and area residents donated 12,000 toys and Thompson purchased 5,000 more toys using $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.
Thompson said the Marine reservists distributed toys to families in Dougherty, Lee, Worth, Mitchell, Sumter, Thomas, Colquitt and Terrell counties, on 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,” said Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Johnny R. Ruby, an assistant coordinator for Toys for Tots.
About 90 Marine reservists and 30 volunteers, including active-duty Marines, sailors and their families, civilian employees and contractors worked together throughout the campaign 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.
Events here included a golf tournament, Albany’s Celebration of Lights Parade, and a ‘Stuff the Truck’ event at Wal-Mart.
Thompson said it has been a good year for the Toys for Tots Program in Albany.
“It was gratifying to know that what we were doing was for a good cause,” he said. “Everyone involved -- whether it was giving toys, donating money or volunteering -- made this happen.”
Thompson said 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,” he 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,” Thompson continued. “It’s an awesome feeling to know that you had a hand in giving a child a Christmas or better Christmas.”
Plans for the 2014 Toys for Tots campaign are underway, he said.