EUGENE, Ore. — This weekend, Local Marines handed out toys to nearly 2,000 families in Springfield, Oakridge and Cottage Grove.
Your donations helped those families, and the nearly 4,000 kids who now have presents under the Christmas tree.
Consider this the softer side of the Marines, trying out toys before they end up in the cart and eventually in the hands of a local child.
“There’s a lot that goes through your mind when you’re running through the aisles, picking up whatever toy it might be,” said Staff Sgt. Thadd Pooler, U.S. Marine Corps.
On the first big shopping trip of the year, the Marines spent $18,000 at Toys”R”Us. That’s money you donated last year.
“It’s a lot of toys. A lot of money, a lot of fun,” Pooler said.
The Sunday after Black Friday, families showed up at ShopKo to make a donation to Toys for Tots and kids got a chance to ride in fire trucks and police cars.
“It’s important to kind of share with them about giving and about how they have a lot of things in life but not everyone is that fortunate,” said donor Austin Bailey.
That’s the lesson Mona Ayers, owner of MJ Daycare, wanted to teach this group of pre-schoolers.
“The children wanted to learn a little bit about giving instead of getting,” Ayers said.
They stormed the toy aisle at the West 18th Avenue and Chambers Street Bi-mart to pick out donations.
The Marines took a cue from the kiddos and did some more shopping of their own. They loaded the carts with about $4,500 worth of toys. They did the same thing the next week at the Mohawk Bi-mart.
On our final Toys for Tots Tuesday, we saw a phenomenal response, including a $2,000 donation.
“It covers so many children, so many areas of need and it’s just something very trustworthy and just a wonderful thing,” said donor Terri Becker.
Two days later we launched our first-ever mobile tweetup, driving all around Eugene and Springfield to collect your donations. In all, we picked up 3,156 toys and 2,228 stocking stuffers. Those, and all the rest we collected this year, went home with parents this weekend.
“I think what they do here is really great. I think it takes a lot of community to do something like this you know. It takes a whole community to raise a child and I really think that’s true,” said toy recipient Crystal Thornbrugh.
The Marines aren’t done yet. They’ll also hand out toys to local pediatric units on Christmas Eve.