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Marine Sgt. Chris Greene stands next to a Toys for Tots donation box on RAF Alconbury. The Marines from the RAF Molesworth Joint Analysis Center are conducting the annual toy drive in England through Dec. 9.
Marine Sgt. Chris Greene stands next to a Toys for Tots donation box on RAF Alconbury. The Marines from the RAF Molesworth Joint Analysis Center are conducting the annual toy drive in England through Dec. 9. (Bryan Mitchell / S&S)

RAF ALCONBURY — Sgt. Chris Greene knows the power of giving. Especially when it comes to the Marine Corps signature charity campaign Toys for Tots.

The Kings Mountain, N.C., native has two adopted sons who were recipients of the annual holiday season toy drive before they came to live with the Marine and his family.

So Greene takes great pride in standing in his sharply pressed dress uniform at base exchange stores across England, quietly reminding patrons that some kids need just a little help to feel the holiday cheer.

He’ll be at his BX posts each weekend through early December.

“It’s my opportunity to help give back in my own way,” the 24-year-old veteran of two tours in Iraq said during a recent stint at the Alconbury BX. “It’s definitely a privilege.”

Toys for Tots is celebrating its 60th birthday this year as thousands of Marines from across the United States, and scores more at installations worldwide, deliver untold joy to needy children.

The program began in 1947 in Los Angeles when Marine Corps Reserve Maj. Bill Hendricks delivered 5,000 toys to disadvantaged children on Christmas Eve, according to the Marine Corps Web site.

The program normally is run by Marine Corps Reserve units in large cities and small towns across America. In England, a contingent of roughly 19 active-duty Marines serving at the Joint Analysis Center on RAF Molesworth administers the program.

Last year, the JAC Marines collected about 1,600 toys for disadvantaged youths in the United Kingdom. Peterborough-based Compass Charity, which focuses on underprivileged children in Cambridgeshire, is working with Step One, also based in Peterborough, to distribute the toys.

Compass chief executive Stella Keir said the Marines’ efforts help brighten Christmas morning for scores of British children.

“For us, the fact that the Americans actually support us so well is a huge factor,” she said. “It would not be anywhere near as successful as it is without their help.”

People wanting to give can find the donation boxes at the entrance to BX stores on RAFs Alconbury, Lakenheath and Mildenhall. Greene designed the boxes, which are dark blue with a single red stripe, to match the Marine Corps dress uniform.

The boxes will be on site through the weekend of Dec. 9.

How to giveIn addition to giving toys at the drop boxes at BX’s in the U.K., donors can also give BX gift cards. The Marines use the cards to buy gifts geared to age groups lacking donated gifts.

Donors also can visit www.toysfortots.org to make a donation via the Web site. There donors can give money, a gift via eBay or even donate a vehicle to the Toys for Tots

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