Toys for Tots working to make merry Christmases
December 15, 2003
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — For Gunnery Sgt. Frank K. Nelson and his Toys for Tots staff, ensuring every child enjoys Christmas morning is of the utmost importance.
“Our main objective is to ensure through our commitment that every child across this island has a toy to open up,” Nelson said. “We want to give a little hope and show a brighter future to children during the Christmas season.”
This is the 13th year for the toy drive on Okinawa, and Nelson said his goal is to collect between 8,000 and 10,000 toys.
Even though the drive got off to a two-month late start, he said it has collected more than 4,000 toys and that Toys for Tots should meet the goal.
He said many units have held their own toy drives and have yet to turn in their collections.
Know a family that needs support this Christmas?
Anyone can nominate a family who has fallen on hard times and needs a little extra help from Toys for Tots to make it a memorable Christmas. After a sponsor fills out a nomination form, they then fill out a toy request form providing age and sex of children so they can be given age-appropriate toys.
Once the request is filled out, toys are issued to the sponsor for delivery to the family.
Lance Cpl. Andrew O. Vanhorne, the program coordinator, said Toys for Tots tries to give three toys to each child.
Not just military families are benefiting.
Nelson said the program extends off-base to make the season brighter for the Okinawa children.
“This is one program that will foster and take into account all the positive things the Marine Corps stands for in building relationships with the Okinawan community,” Nelson said. “This program shows the Corps’ compassionate side.
“It’s a collective effort of all branches of the service, family members and civilians, by donating new, unwrapped toys to children island-wide … not just military family members, but outside the gates.”
“It gives us a chance to make a positive impact,” Vanhorne said. “The more we support [the local community], the more they get to know us.”
To ensure all children have a good Christmas, Nelson said it takes a “Corps of volunteers” — the Marines volunteering to stand in dress blues at exchange donation boxes, drivers who pick up toys and deliver them to the warehouse and families who also pitch in.
“It’s a total concerted effort of the community, ensuring every child has the hope of a beautiful Christmas,” he said.
Nelson said the donation and family nomination deadline is Dec. 20.
To donate, stop by any base exchange or Toys-R-Us store.
To volunteer, call Nelson or Vanhorne at DSN 645-0732 or 645-7308.