Local Marines provide toys and smiles

Sam Martin, a retired Marine and local Toys for Tots organizer, sorts through donated items on Wednesday, Dec. 5. - Rogerick Anas
Sam Martin, a retired Marine and local Toys for Tots organizer, sorts through donated items on Wednesday, Dec. 5.
— image credit: Rogerick Anas

With toys still coming in, the Olympic Peninsula Detachment of the Marine Corps League is working overtime to wrap gifts for the 21st annual Kitsap County Christmas Party.

The event, for children ages 13 and younger, is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, at the Kitsap Pavilion and is co-sponsored by the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners.

As part of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program, local Marines from the Security Force Company at Bangor are staffing donation bins at the area exchanges and the Kitsap Mall.

“Since we don’t have a reserve unit in the area, we decided to be heavily involved in Toys for Tots since it is a big program,” Sgt. Major Carl Brooks said. “The Marines here are volunteering to do this. And when you can get a Marine to volunteer for something it’s a pretty big deal. But that’s the caliber of Marines out here.

“Once they get out there, stand in the mall and talk to the community — they love it.”

Local Toys for Tots organizer Sam Martin has been involved in the program for more than two decades. He said the bulk of the support comes not only from businesses and service groups, but from workers at Bangor’s Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific, who purchase many of the toys handed out to the kids.

“All of the toys and money donated here in this peninsula stay in this peninsula,” said Martin, a retired Marine.

He added that donations seem a bit down this year, but he expected a large donation from SWFPAC Monday, Dec. 10.

“It’s a tough job but I have a thing for children,” Martin said. “And when you see those little faces light up when they get their presents, it makes it all worthwhile.”

The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve has conducted the Toys for Tots campaign for 53 years and distributes more than 7 million toys to nearly 4 million needy children nationwide each Christmas.

“Many kids would go without if it wasn’t for Toys for Tots,” Brooks said. “But with it, a lot are going to have an outstanding Christmas.”

For more information, call 551-5394.

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