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Marines are looking for a few good toys

21 Nov 2011 | Diane Durden

For thousands of children throughout the Morongo Basin and Coachella Valley, Christmas has the potential to be a gray, dreary and hopeless holiday. With the help of Combat Center Marines and the Toys for Tots program, that will not be the case.

The Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program collects and distributes toys to less fortunate children throughout the United States.

This year’s coordinator, Gunnery Sgt. Nilavanh Sosayachanh, tank maintenance chief, 4th Tank Battalion, Fourth Marine Division, has been gearing up for the past couple of months preparing for this year’s campaign.

Toy collection boxes were distributed to local businesses long before the first notes of Christmas music were played in hopes of getting a jump start in collecting enough toys for this year’s distribution.

Last year, the Combat Center’s campaign distributed 30,000 toys to more than 13,000 children in the local area. Due to the current economic crunch, Sosayachanh is expecting the need for toys to increase. He won’t be able to provide enough toys without the help and support of the local community.

“Our biggest obstacle will be getting enough donations,” said Sosayachanh, who has currently distributed about 150 toy collection boxes in the area.

Donating new, unwrapped toys is not the only way to help. Cash donations are used to purchase toys to supplement toy donations for distribution. Last year, $18,000 was used to purchase toys for gifting.

Although Toys for Tots is a nation-wide program, each campaign is locally run. All donations, toys and cash, are retained and distributed within the local community. Collecting toys is only part of the program. Distributing toys to children in need is the other part.

Families needing toys can request to be a recipient by submitting a toy request form, available on the Toys for Tots website. The deadline to register is Dec. 11, 2011.

The goal of the Toys for Tots program is to deliver a message of hope to needy children by providing the gift of a shiny new toy.

“It’s a great program,” said Sosayachanh. “It gives you a chance to help the community and others.”

Your time is just a valuable as a toy or monetary donation. You can work events or man a collection box, sort incoming toys, pick up collected toys from local businesses and more. To find out more about how you can help, visit the Combat Center’s Toys for Tots website at

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms