HYATTSVILLE – This Christmas, children should not go without a present and Toys for Tots is making sure as many kids as possible get one. On Monday, Nov. 30, the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation and the U.S. Marine Corps teamed up to benefit the Toys for Tots Foundation and local children who are less fortunate. […]
HYATTSVILLE – This Christmas, children should not go without a present and Toys for Tots is making sure as many kids as possible get one.
On Monday, Nov. 30, the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation and the U.S. Marine Corps teamed up to benefit the Toys for Tots Foundation and local children who are less fortunate.
The Toys for Tots Bicycle Building Workshop was held at the Prince George’s County Police Department in Hyattsville from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and featured Washington Redskins players who assisted marines and county police officers in building bicycles to be donated through the Toys for Tots holiday program.
“The end result of knowing when that child wakes up on Christmas morning, they’ll have a toy under the tree,” Staff Sgt. Stephan Nutter said. “My big thing is that I can come out here as a Marine and represent the Marine Corps and Toys for Tots program, but I can’t accomplish my mission and our mission to provide the toys for the kids, if not for everyone here.”
The U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Foundation is a non-profit organization authorized by the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Department of Defense to provide fundraising and other necessary support for the annual Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program. Sgt. Nutter has been helping out with the program for 15 years.
“The foundation itself probably distributes over one million toys on average every year to approximately hundreds of thousands of kids across the United States of America,” Nutter said.
The Toys for Tots Foundation provides a message of hope to less fortunate children through the gift of a new toy or book during the holiday season. The foundation believes many of the books, games and sports equipment it provides as gifts make a significant contribution to the educational, social and recreational development of children.
“I started this with just me in a truck driving boxes around. I went to the county sheriff with this idea and ever since then it’s been the police and me doing this every year. We disperse the bikes all over Maryland and Washington, D.C.,” said Dawn Stem, coordinator for the Prince George’s County Toys for Tots Foundation. “People should donate because at the end of the day a lot of families go through a lot and it is not about the toys, it is about somebody helping them. That is what’s most important because for that one moment in time those kids have that family spirit.”
The county Toys for Tots Foundation reaches 20,000 kids in the county alone.
“You know all of the public servants that are out here, whether its police, the fire department, the marines, and even the Redskins, we are a part of Prince George’s County and we are helping to make Christmas a little brighter for some of the kids that don’t have the things that some of us take for granted,” said Marc Bashoor, Prince George’s County fire chief. “The Toys for Tots campaign is an opportunity for us to give back a little more than we normally do because public safety is always in the business of giving back.”
Bashoor brought along a team from the Chapel Oaks station that put together boys’ and girls’ bicycles.
“This a feel-good moment for a lot of these guys and just the ability to help build these bikes and see the smiles on these kids faces when we give them out is priceless,” Bashoor said. “The Toys for Tots event feels like being a dad all over again.”
Erika Ervin, acting lieutenant of the Prince George’s County Police community services division, shared the same sentiment.
“We have thousands of kids in Prince George’s County that are looking for new toys for Christmas and we’re just happy to be able to provide to the community,” Ervin said. “We have a great sense of community here in the county and to see those kids standing in line on the 19th and the joy in their faces, it’s just makes it all worth it.”
The Toys for Tots collection is also a part of the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation’s “Season of Sharing” campaign, in which the team is embarking on several initiatives to give back to the community throughout the holiday season.
“To impact children’s lives, especially around the holidays, being Santa’s helper, helping building bikes with the marines, getting out and showing we’re not just football players. We are human beings too and we want to make a difference,” said Houston Bates, a Redskins linebacker. “These marines are used to building tanks, so these bikes should be nothing for them to build.”
The Redskins players and staff were excited to be able to give back to the community and anxious to start building bicycles at the event.
“I enjoy putting smiles on kids’ faces,” said Kyshoen Jarrett, Redskins defensive back. He and his wife were seen at the event building bikes for kids that will show up on Dec 19.
“Every kid has their own story, so you don’t know what type of environment a kid may be coming from.” Jarrett said. “It is important to put a smile on even their face and this provides me an opportunity to do so.”
Toys for Tots collection locations will continue through Wednesday, Dec. 16 and local residents are encouraged to donate new, unwrapped toys at a Redskins team store throughout the holidays.