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Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center
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Capt. Michael Gocke, inspector-instructor, 4th Tank Battalion, picks out toys from a Toys R’ Us as part of the Toys for Tots program Nov. 1. The store allowed Marines and sailors to pick out $18,000 worth of toys from their store in Indio, Calif.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Ali Azimi

Combat Center Marines begin annual Christmas tradition

9 Nov 2012 | LCpl. Ali Azimi Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

A handful of Combat Center Marines and sailors headed to Toys R’ Us in Indio, Calif., Nov. 1 to collect toys for the Toys for Tots Program. The store donated $18,000 worth of toys to the Toys for Tots program, adding to the cache of board games, action figures and dolls already collected. 

Marines began the Toys for Tots program as a way to collect and donate toys for needy children in 1947. Since then, they have collected millions of toys for children in unfortunate circumstances all around the United States.

“It’s our ability as Marines to give back to the community,” said Sgt. Jeremy Smith, main battle tank technician, 4th Tank Battalion. “It shows that we care and it’s definitely wortxh it.”

The program has survived for decades and still donates a countless amount of toys every year to give to kids on Christmas. A simple toy can mean the world to a young boy or girl.

“When you were a kid and you got a toy, man that was the best thing,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Jose Saenz, corpsman, 4th Tanks. “Just imagine a little kid that’s not going to get a toy.”

4th Tanks is in charge of the programs collection, which began Oct. 10 and ends Dec. 17.

“I’m really happy I get to do this,” said Saenz. “I always saw the Marines with the boxes and thought that’s kind of cool and now I have a chance to do it. Back in the office we already have another truck filled with toys so I think this year is going to be pretty good.”

The volunteers were split up into and given an age range to buy for in the store. Their only rule was that each item must cost under $25.  Their shopping carts filled up quickly with everything from Spiderman action figures to Barbie dolls.

Their shopping carts quickly filled with piles of toys and were lined up at the cash registers.

It took well over an hour to process everything through the registers and load up into their white truck. By the end of their shopping spree, the truck was filled with a mountain of toys.

“It’s something that will fulfill you, make you feel good about yourself,” said Saenz. “Just come donate. It’s not for the Marines it’s for the kids.”

For information on how to donate visit

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms