RICHMOND, VA –
Marine Staff Sgt. Spencer Butler reflected on this season of giving as he collected two boxes overflowing with toys sitting in the front lobby of the DLA Aviation Operations Center on Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia, Dec. 16.
Butler, a customer account specialist, Marine Corps Customer Facing Division, Customer Operations Directorate, Defense Logistics Agency Aviation, Richmond, Virginia, said a total of six boxes were placed around various locations on DLA Aviation as part of this year’s Toys for Tots campaign.
“It feels awesome to be able to give back to the local community, to be able to do more for kids and their families in need aside from our normal duties of serving our country,” he said.
According to its website, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program collects new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distributes those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.
Butler said they collected between 350-400 toys this year.
Employee’s Toys for Tots gifts come less than a week after those working on Defense Supply Center Richmond donated more than 1,000 gifts to 129 area elementary and high school students as part of the 2019 Angel Tree.
Close to nine hours down Interstate 95, those working at DLA Aviation-Jacksonville embarked on their own Toys for Tots mission.
Staci Clark-Allen, management assistant, DLA Aviation-Jacksonville, spearheaded the drive this year, a labor of love she said she’s done for the past six years after moving to Jacksonville from Yokosuka, Japan.
She said leading the charge is personal for her.
“My son was a recipient of toys from the Marine Corps Toys for Tots in 1997 when he was 4 years old. I had been hospitalized for 20 weeks, his dad was active duty Navy and deployed and I was unable to do any Christmas shopping for him. After picking up the toys, I vowed that day that I would do whatever I could to help with the toy donations and distribution,” she said.
Clark-Allen said after they collected close to 900 toys last year, she challenged her co-workers to collect 1,000 toys this year.
Not only did they meet this challenge, Clark-Allen said they far exceeded it, collecting 1,394 toys.
“This is an absolutely amazing accomplishment. The satisfaction is in knowing that the needy children in the Greater Jacksonville area will wake up to toys underneath their tree on Christmas Day,” she said.
One of those who stepped up to the plate in Jacksonville was Terry Nance, a resolution specialist. He’s said over the past two years, he’s donated more than a thousand toys to the cause. This year he donated 850 mint-condition, miniature cars he has been collecting for more than 30 years.
“They were taking up quite a bit of space and I no longer had the desire to keep collecting them. Since this is the time of year for giving, I chose Toys for Tots for children who may not get much for Christmas,” Nance said.
Between Toys for Tots and Angel Tree, those in Richmond and Jacksonville combined to donated close to 2,800 gifts for those in need.
DLA Aviation Commander Air Force Brig. Gen. David Sanford said it’s an honor working with such great men and women, who selflessly gave to those who may not otherwise have had during the holidays.
“These were record donations and will bring tremendous joy to children across the Richmond and Jacksonville areas. I am so humbled by the giving and support DLA will provide to the children of our local communities, the same communities that graciously support us daily,” he said.