Face of Defense: German Children Get Toys for Tots-donated Gifts
By Marine Corps Sgt. Tatum Vayavananda
U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa
STUTTGART, Germany, Dec. 19, 2013 Volunteers from U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa, USO-Stuttgart and the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart coordinated with the Toys for Tots program in Landstuhl, to deliver new toys to underprivileged children, Dec. 16.
Donated toys ready to be delivered by U.S. Marines and the USO in Stuttgart, Germany, Dec. 16, 2013. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tatum Vayavananda
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“It’s been a great, overwhelming outpouring of support and donations from the local military community,” said Marine Corps Sgt. Jared P. Massey, the Toys for Tots program coordinator for Landstuhl.
This holiday season Toys for Tots in Landstuhl and Stuttgart collected more than 1,300 new, donated toys worth more than $14,000 from local U.S. military communities.
“Last year was the first year we did Toys for Tots, so people didn’t know about it as much,” Massey said. “But this year, everyone was looking out for it. People dropped off toys even when the boxes weren’t there anymore.”
Toys were delivered to local German children with coordination with the German Red Cross in Landstuhl and the USO in Stuttgart.
“[The German Red Cross] was extremely grateful. Last year, they didn’t really understand what we were doing because it was lost in translation, but then we showed up with two vans full of brand-new toys and they were caught by surprise,” Massey said.
For the holiday season, the Marines put boxes outside base exchanges to collect toys. Local kindergartens, orphanages and organizations that represent underprivileged children were contacted through the Ramstein and Stuttgart communities to deliver toys to families registered through the Toys for Tots program.
“There are programs in place that go back toward the military families, but very few that go back to our German communities,” Massey said.
“We’re guests in this country and we’re supported by the local community,” he added. “We drive on their roads, we live in their towns and we’re supported by their businesses, so we’re giving back to our communities outside of the [U.S.] military bases. It’s been a great experience and I’m glad I can be a part of it.”