With the holiday season in full swing, Reserve Marines with 6th Communications Battalion collected thousands of toys during the final week of New York’s 2012 Toys for Tots drive Dec. 17-20, in New York City’s Times Square.
The Toys for Tots Program is an annual fundraiser and toy drive led by the Marine Corps Reserve to provide toys to needy children during the holiday season. Since 1947, Marines have collected and distributed more than 452 million toys to more than 209 million children across the country.
“Toys for Tots is a way for the Marine Corps Reserve to give back to the communities where the Marines live,” said Lt. Col. Richard Bordonaro, the inspector instructor for 6th Communications Battalion.
“Throughout the year we receive a lot of appreciation from the community that we live in and there are a lot of under privileged children in New York, especially with the storm that recently happened. This is a way for us to give these kids who need a little happiness in their lives a toy for the holidays.”
During the event, men and women from all walks of life approached the Marines to donate toys and money for the drive, and to show their appreciation for their local Marines.
“A lot of times we do our job and we know we are doing it for a reason but we don’t get to see the direct effect of our hard work,” said Sgt. Jorge Negron, a ground radio repair specialist with the 6th Communications Battalion. “People in New York really appreciate the military and it really feels great to see them come out here and show their support and appreciation for us.”
The Toys for Tots Program received more than 1.2 million requests for toys in New York City. The Marines’ goal is to collect at least 300,000 toys for the children in the area.
In addition to the seemingly constant arrival of vans full of donations from across the state, some New Yorkers took it upon themselves to hold their own drives and bring the toys to the Marines.
Joseph Sorkin, a New York City native, arrived at the site with a car full of toy donations from the Cross Fit Hell’s Kitchen gym.
“Toys for Tots is a terrific program that the Marines put on every year,” Sorkin said. “It’s become a tradition. For those of us that are fortunate [enough] to be able to buy presents for our families, it feels good to give back and do something small that’s easy to do.”
“We were at an event last Saturday where we started distributing toys to children who had lost their homes when Hurricane Sandy hit over in the Rockaways,” said Capt. Craig Tooker, the Service Company inspector instructor for 6th Communications Battalion. “It really was great to get out there and hopefully give those children a good Christmas in the wake of everything that has happened.”
Thanks to the massive influx of donations this year, the Marines met and exceeded their goal of 300,000 toys.
“The people of New York who have been supporting this program are unbelievable,” Bordonaro said. “People have been coming here, going to Toys R Us and bringing us back bags of toys. They know there is a great need in New York this year and they are really meeting that need.”
“Thank you so much to the people of New York for assisting the Toys for Tots Program. I hope everyone in New York and throughout America has happy holidays, a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”
Story by Marine Corps Cpl. Juan Alfonso, 1st Marine Corps District
Edited by Erin Wittkop, Defense Media Activity