With the holidays a little more than a week away, the U.S. Marine Corps along with local organizations are preparing to give toys to children throughout the community.
Members of the U.S. Marine Corps, the Guam Chamber of Commerce, and the Salvation Army carted and carried thousands of toys out of a storage container that will be given to children in need throughout the island as part of the annual Toys for Tots program.
This year, Guam received a little over 7,500 toys and a record-breaking 10,000 toys were collected in the Marianas.
1st Lt. Brett Lazaroff, Communications and Strategy Officer, said: “The toys we collected on Guam, about 4,000 were distributed to the Salvation Army Guam Corps. Just over 2,000 are going to Catholic Social Services and the rest will go to other organizations throughout the island. And 800 have been set to go to Tinian and Rota.”
This year, more than a hundred locations on the island have been designated as drop-off areas where toys could be donated, with many of them being local businesses.
Catherine Castro, Guam Chamber of Commerce president, said
Guam has always been a giving community.
“This year, it blew us away. In general, we collected about 4,000 toys each year. So to have the 7,500 this year, we’re so excited. We really want to thank the people of Guam for the generosity,” Castro said.
For some, participating in this event was a great way to interact closely with members of the island community. But for Lance Corporal George Aguilar, it was an opportunity to pay tribute to a program that once helped him when he was a child. According to Aguilar, he remembers getting a bicycle from a Toys for Tots event for him and his sister when he was around seven years old.
“I know when I was growing up, my parents went through a tough time trying to get those toys. It was a very special Christmas getting bikes, getting extra toys. Absolutely amazing. And now, being stationed here as a United States Marine collecting toys and giving them to the children of Guam…it’s absolutely amazing. It’s a wonder how stuff like this happens,” Aguilar said.
The distribution dates for the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots program will be from Dec. 18 to 20.