Toys for Tots holds a party

Marines helped distribute toys to more than 1,300 Kitsap kids last weekend. - Rogerick Anas
Marines helped distribute toys to more than 1,300 Kitsap kids last weekend.
— image credit: Rogerick Anas

Bright smiles were in abundance Saturday, Dec. 15, when more than 1,300 youngsters attended the annual Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots party at the Kitsap Pavilion.

The festive setting included brightly decorated Christmas trees, a large model train exhibit, candy canes and Santa Claus. The Jolly Old Elf greeted children, listened to their wishes and gave them two gifts apiece.

Marines from the Marine Corps Security Force Detachment at Subase Bangor have staffed bright red Toys for Tots barrels at retail outlets throughout Kitsap County since Nov. 23.

Lance Cpl. Toby Thompson of Burlington, Iowa, was enthusiastic about meeting the children.

“This is a great turnout and it’s really nice to just see the kids smile when they get their presents,” Thompson said.

Thompson and 20 other Marines handed out gifts to children who wound through a long but quickly moving line.

Helping out and providing security were Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputies, reserves and cadets. Among them was Sheriff Steve Boyer, who was impressed with the holiday spirit and turnout.

“This has been one of the most satisfying events I have been involved with.,” Boyer said. Working with the Marines and seeing their pride in what they are doing is just great. Plus we’ve got deputies, reserves and cadets from our department and all of the volunteers who have worked really hard to make this a success. It’s just great.”

Probably the biggest donation of toys for this year’s program came from employees of the Strategic Weapons Facility, Pacific at Subase Bangor. SWFPac employees raise money through raffles, bake sales and other events throughout the year for Toys for Tots. They then go on a shopping spree, filling up a semi-truck or two with new toys. This year, SWFPac employees donated more than $11,500 worth of toys to the Marines.

Robin Hallock of the Marine Corps League’s Olympic Peninsula Detachment was concerned early on that donations were not as plentiful as they would have liked this year, but those fears were dashed.

“This has been a big success and we received more toys than we expected,” Hallock said. “The help and support from the general public is more than I could have expected. The Marines being here, the various fraternal orders of police, the local merchants, they all have been a great help.”

Local officials estimated they distributed more than 2,800 toys during Saturday’s program. Nationally, the Marine Corps Reserve brings the joy of Christmas to more than 4 million needy children each year.

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