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YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — A local softball club hit a homer for the Marine Forces Korea Toys for Tots collection drive, buying and donating $1,000 worth of toys Saturday morning.

For the seventh straight year, the Guzzlers Softball Club — a private organization — held a softball tournament to support the Marine effort.

Nine teams played in the tournament over Veterans Day weekend, said club president Tom Costello. Each team was required to provide either a $100 donation or toys and the Guzzlers donated an extra $100 to make it an even $1,000 donation. Tournament men’s teams included the Guzzlers, Heat, Osan, Casey and Bad Boyz while the women’s teams included Lady Heat, Yongsan, Osan and Daegu.

The Bad Boyz team held another softball tournament at Camp Henry — located in Daegu — about a week ago, Costello said. They also made a donation to the toy drive.

On Saturday, Guzzlers’ members hit the Four Seasons store at the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, filling the back of a Marine Corps van with toys.

Collection drive organizer Marine Staff Sgt. Nathan Natchke donned his dress blue uniform and met the team for a photo at the Christmas tree near the garrison fire station.

The Marine Corps set a goal of collecting 5,000 toys this season, up from last year’s 4,000 donations.

Natchke said the two tournament donations put them at roughly the halfway mark, but stressed there is still time to donate. Collection boxes are located at the Yongsan AAFES stores, at the Navy Club and in the schools. A collection box also can be found at the Osan Air Base exchange.

Natchke said the toy collection will run through Dec. 18.

“Next weekend should be good,” he said. “It’s a payday weekend.”

Costello said the idea surfaced in 2001 as a “way to give back to the community.”

The Guzzlers have hundreds of players scattered in locations around the world. Earlier this year, they had teams playing tournaments in California, Thailand and Hawaii on the same weekend.

The Marine Corps began the program 60 years ago in an effort to ensure needy children get a present.

Anyone wishing to donate can place new, unwrapped toys for boys and girls of all ages in the collection boxes.


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