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Theodore Gablin, President of the Redlands Airport Association, poses with one of the bicycles donated to the Toys for Tots foundation at the Twentynine Palms airport Dec. 2, 2017. This event marked the third-annual Toys for Tots Fly-in. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ashlee Conover)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Ashlee Conover

Marines, Redlands Airport Association team up for Toys for Tots

2 Dec 2017 | Courtesy Story Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. –Marines from 4th Tank Battalion partnered with the Redlands Airport Association to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate children during the 3rd annual Toys for Tots Fly-in, Dec. 2, 2017.

The RAA pilots loaded 24 small aircraft with toys that ranged from stuffed animals to bicycles, and began their approximately 70-mile flight to the Twentynine Palms Airport.

“It’s one of the best things we do as an aviation community; it’s joyful to fly, to give and to be a part of all this,” said Dennis K. Brown, the Safety Officer of the RAA. “This is our third year doing this and every time it gets bigger. The fact that it grows means more and more people are taking part in something that’s going to make a lot of kids happy. We`re very pleased to help, I can`t think of a better cause.”

At the Twentynine Palms Airport the pilots met the local Toys for Tots coordinator, Staff Sgt. Jason Slye, company master gunner, 4th Tanks. For the past three years Slye has collected the toys to be distributed to less fortunate families in the area.

“We live in a fairly poor area, and a lot of these kids wouldn’t get toys otherwise so we`re here to help out and give them a Christmas they might not have,” Slye said.

Cindy Gablin, secretary of the RAA, was brought to tears when speaking on behalf of her volunteer community.

“To be able to give to the children, it`s just an awesome thing to do,” Gablin said. “This year has been the most successful by far. With 2,500 toys, 6 bicycles, and $1,200 in checks donated, the numbers increased by five times since last year.”

Toys for Tots has long been a successful nationwide community action project allowing Marines to give back to communities by helping less fortunate children throughout the United States experience the joy of Christmas.

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