Once again, NAS Patuxent River’s Marine Aviation Detachment (MAD) is partnering with the local Marine Corps League – a civilian organization of Marine veterans – to collect new, unwrapped toys for less fortunate children in the community.
“Collection boxes are already set up in various buildings across Pax River, including [high traffic locations like] the Navy Exchange (NEX),” said USMC Sgt. Bryan Rangel, this year’s MAD Toys for Tots coordinator.
In addition to the boxes aboard Pax River, many more can be found at major businesses and restaurants up and down Route 235.
“Overall, there are about 250 locations between the base and the community,” noted Chuck Jones, Marine Corps League member, and the St. Mary’s County Toys for Tots coordinator.
The group works with local social services agencies to identify families in need of extra support, and all toys donated stay here in St. Mary’s County.
“Last year, we collected 10,784 toys including books and stocking stuffers, but we gave out 14,330 because we bought some toys with money that had been donated,” Jones noted. “We reached 1,165 kids in the community.”
Marines in full dress blues will be manning collection boxes in front of Walmart and Dress Barn in the community, and the NEX at Pax River, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on both Nov. 30 and Dec. 7, if anyone would like to stop by then to make their donation.
“Helping out with toy separation and distribution is something we like to be part of as well,” Rangel added. “Going out and talking to the youth about Toys for Tots to help collect toys is another example of events we take part in.”
While the Marine Corps coordinator understandably changes year to year, this is Jones’ fifth year working with Toys for Tots, and besides the satisfaction of helping kids have a happy holiday, he also enjoys the fact that the effort brings together many different organizations within the community.
“A lot of different organizations get involved – like the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, car clubs, motorcycle clubs – and I like seeing them all work together,” he said.
Rangel says he’s proud to be part of the campaign this year and is appreciative of Pax River personnel for their donations.
“Everyone involved in it works very hard to meet our goals, and the response from Pax is great,” he said. “I get calls and emails every day about buildings that want to participate.”
The Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Foundation is an IRS-recognized not-for-profit charity that raises funds, purchases toys, provides promotional and support materials, manages all funds raised and donated, solicits corporate support, educates the public and handles day-to-day operations. Since its inception in 1947, 566 million toys have been distributed to date to 258 million children, according to the Toys for Tots website.
The final drop-off day for donations is Dec. 8.