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Sgt. Jacobo Hernandez, a Marine volunteer with the Toys for Tots Foundation, puts toys in the donation barrel from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department Mounted Search and Rescue rider George Bowman at the base of the Combat Center's flag pole Nov. 22.

Photo by Lance Cpl. M.C. Nerl

Mounted patrolmen donate to T4T

24 Nov 2009 | Lance Cpl. M.C. Nerl

Volunteer Mounted Search and Rescue patrolmen with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department rode through the Combat Center on horseback to contribute toys to the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Foundation Nov. 22.

The mounted patrolmen started at Del Valle Field and ended their march at the base of the installation’s flag pole shortly after morning colors.

“We gathered all the toys and everything ourselves,” said Bill Wyman, the training officer for the unit, and a native of St. Louis. “It took about a month, but here we are today with 14 horsemen and around 150 toys to give to Toys for Tots.

“This is the first time we’ve contributed to Toys for Tots like this,” he said. “It’s a great program and we’ve all contributed before, but we decided to contribute as a team this year and ride on base as a show of support.”

Wyman said all the patrolmen and women spent their personal time and money to make the event possible, purchasing all the toys on their own dime.

Kim Miller, a patrolwoman with the sheriff’s department, said she and the other members hope to make the event a reoccurring one.

“So far we all really enjoyed it,” said the Twentynine Palms native. “This is the first one, obviously, but we’d like to make it an annual event because it’s a great foundation and we’re all proud to contribute to it.

“I think, if it was an annual event, we’d be able to make an even bigger contribution and have our own toy drive to give to Toys for Tots,” she said. “If we got more toys, we could give more out to those in need.”

Cpl. Nadia Hernandez, one of the Toys for Tots volunteers who greeted the search and rescuers, said taking part is such a unique event is an honor for her.

“We get a lot of our things from individual donations and events,” said the Dixion, Calif., native. “But this is a lot at once, and it’s amazing these people gave so much from their own pockets.”

The sheriff’s department is still putting plans together for next year’s event. The Toys for Tots campaign, however, will still be running strong through the holiday season.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms