MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
The formation of 1,626 Marines
seemed to go on forever as they poured out of the Marine Corps Communications-Electronics School
during the Toys for Tots
Run at the Combat Center
Nearly every Marine carried toys ranging from balls, action figures and board games— one Marine even rode a bicycle. The toys were collected for the Toys for Tots program, which provides less-fortunate families with the means to give their children Christmas gifts.
As the Marines ran to the Commanding General’s building, the commanding officer for MCCES, Col. David J. Terando, passed the first toy to the Combat Center’s commanding general, Brig. Gen. H. Stacy Clardy.
Toys for Tots volunteers waiting in their dress blue uniforms guided the MCCES Marines to a group of trucks where they deposited their donations. As the formation passed, the toys were handed off to the volunteers and placed in the vehicles.
“We tried to set up guidelines so the Marines wouldn’t purchase the same exact toys,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Anthony Russell, the operations chief for MCCES, who helped set up the event. Russell split the Marines up alphabetically, and had them purchase toys for different age groups.
“The run was mandatory, but buying a toy was optional for the Marines,” he said. “It was amazing how many Marines had gone out and bought toys.”
Lance Cpl. Kenneth Keiser, a MCCES Marine who participated in the event, said he bought a gift because he has a 10-month-old baby, and he didn’t want to imagine a Christmas where his child was without a gift.
“This event was helpful in many ways–yes it was good for [physical training], but it was mostly about the families and giving to those in need,” said the Gresham, Ore., native. “I’m glad I was able to help other kids just like my own.”
The toys were delivered to 4th Tank Battalion to be sorted and distributed to area children.
For more information on donating or receiving toys call 830-0968.