FORT BELVOIR, Virginia –
Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series describing the important services and support provided by the charities listed in the Combined Federal Campaign’s Catalog of Giving, as experienced by a member of the Defense Logistics Agency Energy workforce. This article highlights a charitable organization that focuses on the collection and delivery of toys for less fortunate children to experience the joy of Christmas in the Northern Virginia and Washington D.C. area. The CFC drive has been extended through the month of December.
The Toys for Tots drop boxes are full and will make children happy this holiday season thanks to the generous donations of Defense Logistics Agency Energy employees and retired Marines.
“As a retired Marine having served on an inspector and instructor billet, I've seen firsthand the positive impact Toys for Tots has not only on the child receiving the toy, but an impact on the family and community,” said Jason Hayungs, DLA Energy Sustainment Restoration and Modernization project manager.
The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Foundation is a not-for-profit Combined Federal Campaign public charity located in Quantico, Virginia. Each year during October through December, Marine reservists and volunteers collect toys and donations to distribute Christmas gifts to children whose families cannot afford to buy them.
“I had a chance to experience the Toys for Tots first-hand acting as the area coordinator for Southeast Michigan while on an inspector and instructor duty from 2004-2005,” said Richard "Tony" Rabak, DLA Energy logistics management specialist. “There were a lot of long hours spent collecting and distributing toys to the children of the area … and to see the look on the faces of the parents when they were provided toys to give to their children was that of joy and gratitude.”
The primary goal of Toys for Tots is to deliver a message of hope to thousands of less fortunate youngsters through a new toy at Christmas that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens.
This time of year can be hard if parents can't provide toys to their children and this program gives them something to look forward to on Christmas morning, Rabak said.
“I have been contributing to the Toys for Tots program for many years and will continue to do so as year after year it proves how meaningful it is to our local community," said Dan Martineau, DLA Energy program manager. “The Toys for Tots Program is one of the best ways to ensure that children in need are able to enjoy a Merry Christmas.”
There is nothing like seeing the bright eyes, smile and joy in a child's face when they receive an unexpected toy, Hayungs said.
“The Toys for Tots program truly exudes the Christmas spirit of giving,” he said.
Northern Virginia Toys for Tots coordinators collect and distribute the toys to local nonprofit organizations across 15 counties in Northern Virginia.
“I have had the honor to donate to Toys for Tots for well over 20 years,” said Daniel Poole, DLA Energy management and program analyst. “It gives me and my family great pride to help make a difference through a program that makes the holiday season a little better for those in need.”
The DLA Energy toy contributions will support local children ages 1 through 14. In some areas, the age limit is extended to 14 or 16.
“Great program,” said David Ray, DLA Energy Supply Chain Management directorate team lead. “In 1989 while serving as an active duty Marine at the Phoenix Arizona Navy/Marine Corps Reserve Center, I had the privilege to be a part of the Toys for Tots campaign and saw the tremendous impact on the kids that otherwise would not have had presents for Christmas.”
Ray said the outreach program will melt the heart of the most hard-core Marine as you see the joy of kids that otherwise would not have a Christmas present.
“I have been blessed to see this first-hand and it has made me a better person to always remember how blessed my family and I are and to remember to share not only a toy but some hope for others every day, but especially at Christmas … Semper Fidelis," he said.
More than 97 percent of Toys for Tots donations go to providing toys, books and other gifts to children. Less than 3 percent is spent on fundraising and overhead. For more information, visit toysfortots.org