Remember that toy you donated to the Marines before the holidays? It made a big difference. The Fort Belvoir, Virginia, Marine Corps Detachment, based at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s headquarters here, collected over a 1,000 toys and $7,820 in donations for the 2014 Toys for Tots campaign.
“This was the largest, single donation from a Northern Virginia-based unit working through the Quantico Toys for Tots campaign,” said Wilma Vaughn, Marine Corps Base Quantico Community Relations Officer.
The NGA Toys for Tots campaign was conducted over a nine-day period by 20 Marine volunteers who stood a lunchtime watch in their dress blue uniforms at NGA and staffed a weekend collection post at Fort Belvoir’s Post Exchange.
Gunnery Sgt. Richard Arias, tasked with leading the collection effort, and ably supported by Staff Sgt. Gregorio Salcido, found his fellow Marines more than willing to support this worthwhile effort. He saw a common theme among all the Marines who volunteered to man the collection sites.
“Every person who signed up for a shift gladly gave up their lunch hour to support our campaign,” said Arias.
NGA's contribution was part of the Marine Toys for Tots program's annual nationwide toy donation and fundraising campaign that collects more than 220,000 toys, helping bring holiday joy to kids in need across the U.S.
The Marines also saw firsthand the esprit de corps the agency has for supporting their military components, said Capt. James McLean, detachment commander.
“The generosity of the NGA employees and the Fort Belvoir patrons was boundless as toys and donations continued right up to the Dec. 19 deadline,” said McLean “I’m very proud of what our Marines accomplished. They showed that the Marine spirit extends into our local community and beyond.”
The secretary of defense approved Toys for Tots as an official activity of the U.S. Marine Corps and an official mission of the Marine Corps Reserve in 1995, according to the organization's website. Over its lifespan, the Marine Toys for Tots Program distributed more than 469 million toys to over 216 million less-fortunate children.