Twentynine Palms -- Holiday music danced through the air as children played, wielding balloon swords, puppies and hearts; only stopping to be made into a face-painted persona or to refuel on cookies and hot chocolate. Inside the gymnasium, Marines and sailors wait with their children who were eager to partake in the enchantment of the holidays during a toy giveaway at the West Gym, Dec.10, 2016.
Marine Corps Community Services once again teamed up with JSerra Catholic High School from San Juan Capistrano, Calif., to host its annual Combat Center Toy Giveaway where they gave away approximately 1,500 toys to 1,500 Combat Center patrons. During the event, which was open to all active-duty service members with children, Santa’s helpers greeted guests, spreading holiday cheer and even the Grinch made a special appearance.
“I think it’s important to hold events like this because active-duty service members of the Combat Center know that they are appreciated for everything they do day in and day out,” said Jill Weber, special events manager, MCCS Marketing. “This is just one small way that MCCS can give back.”
According to Weber, people were lined up an hour prior to the start of the event in anticipation of the festivities. Two weeks prior to the giveaway, students from JSerra Catholic High School donated the toys that would later be given to Combat Center children. The day of the giveaway volunteers from MCCS and the high school, which has participated in the giveaway for more than 12 years, helped distribute one age-appropriate toy to each child who attended.
“Today we have about 20 students of all grades and they’re helping to distribute toys that were collected for the Marines, sailors and their families over the last two weeks,” said Eric Stroupe, principal, JSerra Catholic High School. “Our students are taught the importance of service to their community, and we know that means Marines are literally putting their lives on the line for our freedoms and for all the liberties we enjoy here in the United States. I think it’s one of the best things we do in our school and we’re happy to contribute to the holidays.”