MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Marines, Sailors, government employees and families aboard the Combat Center have started their holiday season early by raising money and toys for the Toys For Tots Foundation. In addition to raising toys and money specifically for the foundation, Marine Corps Community Services has raised more than $10,000 through the “Santa Silvers” program for the Toys For Tots Foundation.
The local civilian community has also become aware of the Combat Center’s holiday spirit well into the season.
The Toys For Tots Foundation started a hotline Monday for family toy requests. The hotline is for any military or civilian family in the community in need of assistance to provide gifts for their children during the holidays.
The hotline will continue until Dec. 14 and is in service weekdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Military spouses from the Officer’s Spouses Club and all other interested spouses aboard the Combat Center have been volunteering as hotline operators since it began. In addition, some base service members have also been volunteering to participate in handling hotline phone calls.
Military spouses clubs have been generously participating throughout the year in other programs like Toys For Tots.
“It’s amazing how much fund-raising we’ve done this year,” said Jacqueline Heichelbech, hotline operator and Officer’s Spouses Club board member, about the club efforts. “We’ve done a lot of fund raising for scholarships and grants to students in our community. We hosted ‘A Stroll in the Vineyard,’ and we are looking forward to hosting ‘Mardi Gras’ on March 4. Everything we’ve done has been an effort to assist military spouses or children, and now we continue our efforts in serving our military community with the Toys For Tots Foundation.”
“The hotline has been pretty busy all morning,” said Debbie Considine, hotline volunteer operator. “There has already been a few points when there was non-stop phone calls, so I know the Toys For Tots Foundation is going to be really successful this year. The hotline number has been advertised in local stores, businesses and organizations, so the word is out.”
Anyone interested in receiving toys from the foundation can go through an easy process of applying, said Considine. Individuals from the Morongo Basin can call, give their name, address, the number of children they have with their ages and financial situation. Once that information is recorded, their application will be considered.
“It’s a process that we try to run as smoothly as possible, and we make the people on the other line feel comfortable about it,” said Considine. “We’re glad the toys that we acquired through the program are staying right here in our community. I am very grateful that I can help. We all wish that there was no need for such a program, but there is, and it’s great that the Marine Corps is here to help the community enjoy their holiday season.”
The program also allows substantial time before the holidays begin to distribute toys to families, which can relieve stress from the season.
“It’s great that the people who are in need of the assistance know that their problems will be handled early; weeks before the holidays begin,” said Heichelbech. “Around this time, people begin to stress about what they will give to their loved ones for the holidays. We’re assuring them that it is already taken care of.”