News: Marines storm into store to target toys
Story by Christine Cabalo
AIEA, Hawaii — Toys for Tots volunteers literally bought a truckload of gifts last Wednesday from Toys R Us to give Hawaii’s children in need.
The toys were bought with $10,689.89 worth of donations, but the toy retailer helped volunteers earn enough discounts to save $2,828 for more purchases.
“When we do toy buys we always try to get the most value,” said Staff Sgt. Rafael Arriaga Jr., Toys for Tots coordinator, 4th Force Reconnaissance Company. “We look for sales, and sometimes retailers offer us special rates.”
Personnel from Marine Corps Base Hawaii and the Salvation Army filled up 14 shopping carts of goodies and purchased toys by the caseload to meet community requests.
Toys for Tots Hawaii also enlisted the help of five students from Huakailani School for Girls in Kailua. The students helped volunteers find good values and choose toys girls their age could enjoy. Coordinators receive multiple gift requests for girls 8 to 10, but Arriaga said toy donations alone don’t fulfill the need.
Once students found board games, dolls and other toys, they helped wheel the carts for checkout and hand them to volunteers to load into the truck. The trip was important for 10-year-old student Claire Edwards.
“It makes you think of all the kids who don’t get any toys for Christmas or their birthdays because they can’t afford it,” she said.
Huakailani School director Kaori Brown said the experience helps “prepare girls to be positive contributing citizens. We’re not just teaching them to give back to the community, but actually doing it.”
Toys for Tots volunteers also purchased toys Dec. 8 to assist disabled children supported by the State of Hawaii’s Department of Health office.
Arriaga said the campaign continues to need toys for newborn to 2-year-olds, girls ages 8 to 10, and children 11 years old and older. Monetary support can also go a long way, said Chief Petty Officer Lorenzo Branch, Toys for Tots assistant coordinator.
“The monetary donations enable us to get toys for age groups we really need,” Branch said, adding money stays here in Hawaii to help local families.