Toys for Tots kicks off campaign on Okinawa
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Camp Foster main exchange patrons made the first toy donations to the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots on Okinawa on Saturday during the program’s kickoff ceremony.
Okinawa coordinators hope to collect more than 10,000 toys between now and Dec. 24, said Staff Sgt. Suzette Smith, a reserve Marine from Atlanta who’s here to help coordinate the program.
“Our goal is 10,000 plus toys for 5,000 children,” Smith said. “In all, we want to give one big and one small toy to each child.”
Military families and local charities here will benefit from the program as will deprived children in the Philippines, Guam and Thailand.
Donated toys should be new and unwrapped for newborns to 18-year-olds. The program is hoping for more toys for older kids this year, Smith said.
“People like to buy toys for younger” kids and “in previous years, preteens and teenagers were the hardest (requests) to fill,” Smith said.
“Anything that they’re willing to give, we will accept,” she added.
Since 1947, the program has donated millions of toys “to boys and girls who might not otherwise be able to celebrate” the holiday season, said Lt. Col. David Edson, the Toys for Tots coordinator, to Foster exchange patrons at the opening ceremony as he urged them to donate.
“That doesn’t mean we need to stop giving,” III MEF and Marine Corps Bases Japan Sgt. Maj. Robert E. Mastriano said.
“We are in need of toys; I have more requests than I have toys,” he said.
Donation boxes will be at all Marine Corps camp exchanges as well as the Kadena Air Base exchange. People also can drop off donations at the Navy Federal Credit Unions here, base chapels and at their command sergeant major’s office.
Toys for Tots will be at several events over the next two months including Camp Foster’s Family Readiness Exposition on Nov. 17, and Kadena’s Tinsel Town and Camp Courtney Christmas Festival in early December.
Nov. 18 will be “Bring a Toy to Church” day, and Koza Baptist Church off base will collect toys Dec. 2, Smith said.
The campaign’s culminating event is the Ho Ho Express scheduled for Dec. 15. That day, the Green Line will go from base to base collecting toys as AFN keeps a running tally and exhorts listeners to donate more, Smith said.
The goal will be to double to amount of toys that have been collected up to that point, she added.