Thanksgiving is the family feasting day that for children launches the anticipation of opening presents Christmas morning, for adults the shopping frenzy and having something for each child to unwrap under the tree. It can be a challenging time when families find themselves with economic crisis of one kind or another. And like the men and women who we depend upon to meet our national security challenges, it’s fitting that the Toys for Tots program has become the heart signature of the U.S. Marine Corps. Several years ago Sgt. Boyd Jorgenson brought the Toys for Tots program to the Peninsula and partnered with the Salvation Army for local distribution of toys. Earlier this year Jorgenson moved to Anchorage and U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Joshua Rehm stepped up to coordinate the program for the Peninsula along with Johna Beech of the Kenai Chamber and Visitor Center and Envoy Craig Fanning of the Salvation Army.
“Toys for Tots is a wonderful program that I have been a part of throughout my career with the Marine Corp. It was established in 1947 by Gen. Bill Hendrickson who got the idea from his wife and got together with other reservists in the area of Los Angeles and distributed over 5,000 toys that first year. The programs great success led the Marine Corp to adopt it as a nationwide program the following year, and I was grateful and thankful to be able to continue it here on the Peninsula,” Sgt. Rehm told the Dispatch. According to Sgt. Rehm the Toys for Tots is looking for help with two things, “Our drop off campaign is now if full swing so we are asking folds to drop off a new still packaged toy, not gift wrapped, for any age child including teen agers and the other way to help is a cash donation so we can shop locally for toys to be distributed here on the Peninsula in cooperation with the Salvation Army. Our shopping spree lets us fill in the age gaps that sometimes are left out at the drop boxes,” he said.
Saturday, December 1st at Brown Bears hockey game at the Soldotna Sports Center a special raffle will be held to benefit the local Toys for Tots campaign. Sgt. Rehm will drive a Humvee out on the ice and anyone buying a stuffed bear will have a chance to toss it into the gun turret of the Humvee with prizes for those making a lucky toss and all proceeds going for the Toys for Tots shopping spree. Deadline for bringing new toys to the drop off locations is December 15th. “There is a greater need this year than in the past with the sluggish economy, fish closures and many out of work so I encourage you to take time out of your shopping day to pick up a new toy and take it to a drop off location and we’ll do the rest to be sure you make this a happy holiday for those struggling,” said Sgt. Rehm. Drop off locations include all three Spenard Builders Locations in Kenai, Soldotna and Homer, Hey Good Lookin’ on the Spur Hwy, Midas Muffler, both locations of FNBA, Soldotna Chamber of Commerce, HEA, Hobbies Crafts & Games, Kenai Visitor Center, CPH, KPC, Peninsula Clarion, Stanley Ford, Stanley Chrysler, Computer Renaissance, Lynden Transport, K-Beach Elementary and Jumpin’ Junction. Cash donations may be made at the Kenai Visitor Center for more information call Johna Beech at 283-7989. Applications for assistance may be made at the Salvation Army family service office next to the Kenai Thrift Store on the Spur Hwy.