U.S. Marines fill Santa's sleigh with Toys for local Tots...

It was a busy week for U.S. Marine Sgt. Boyd Jorgensen, the Salvation Army, and Toys for Tots volunteers thanks to the generous contributions from the local community and businesses. Even though the Toys for Tots campaign had a later start this year, "Every year the Marine Corp releases the date to commence Toys for Tots and this year it wasn't until November 1st which was about a month later than usual so we had to play catch up, but thanks to a very generous community, our great business partners, and some special events, we had our biggest year ever," reported Sgt. Boyd Jorgensen, the programs coordinator on the Peninsula. At last count over 900 new unwrapped toys were collected at local drop offs and an additional $3,705 in cash donations were spent buying toys from local businesses. "That was about one hundred more toys than last year and a big increase in cash contributions," said Jorgensen.

On the Sunday before Christmas Jorgensen deployed with a couple of his Marine cohorts, Lance Corp. Kyle Day and Pvt. Jeff Melvin along with volunteers Johna Beech, Cassandra Winslow, Yvonne Urite, and Aleigha Davidson to the Fred Myer toy department for a shopping spree. "This was my third year. Boyd and I paired up in 2009 for the first year to have our own Toys for Tots program on the Peninsula and it's been such a blast I've stuck with it ever since," said Beech.

The cash contributions were enhanced this year due to three major events, an ICONS 907 "Rock for Tots" band concert, a teddy bear toss at a Kenai River Brown Bears game that was followed by a post game party at the Duck Inn, "It was an absolute blast! We sold a bunch of teddy bears for $5.00 a piece and then the Marines drove a Humvee on the ice and everyone threw the bears at the Humvee and if they got their bear in the vehicle they were entered in a drawing for prizes. These events showed huge community support for Toys for Tots and we really appreciate everyone who participated," added Beech. "All the cash and all the toys donated here on the Peninsula go to kids who live and are in need on the Peninsula. Before we started the local Toys for Tots three years ago toys were collected and sent to Anchorage for distribution and that's not the case anymore thanks to the cooperation of the Salvation Army, the business community and our volunteers. Thanks to everyone who contributed to making this a Merry Christmas for kids and families in tough times. We salute you," said Sgt. Boyd Jorgensen.