Story by Chief Yeoman Ryan Arnoldussen, Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) Ventura County
NAVAL BASE VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. – Local Reserve and Full Time Support Sailors from Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) Ventura County participated in the Toys for Tots program Dec. 7, at Naval Base Ventura County by gathering and donating hundreds of toys to the program.
Almost 200 Navy chiefs and first class petty officers came together to volunteer as part of the Chief Petty Officer Association and CPO 365. CPO 365 is a year-round leadership training environment for first class petty officers that are seeking to take the mantle of chief.
"This is so we (the chiefs and first class petty officers) can come together and interact with the first classes and do something great for the community and the kids who might not have a toy under the Christmas tree. Becoming a chief in the Navy is a special accomplishment," explained Chief Yeoman Vanessa Gutierrez, NOSC Ventura County. According to Gutierrez, who helped organize the event Toys for Tots serves as a team building and morale building event.
"It grooms us and takes first class petty officers to the next level," said Information Systems Technician 1st Class Detrick Richardson, NOSC Ventura County.
Toys for Tots is an United States Marine Corps program that collects new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year and gives to less fortunate children in the local community, ensuring they have a present under the Christmas tree.
"I grew up in a low-income family, and it was programs like Toys for Tots and selfless donors that enabled us to enjoy new toys and cheer during the holiday season," said Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class Christina Tan, NOSC Ventura County.
Tan was the lead organizer of the drive, which included drop-off bins at the Reserve Center and at the Navy Exchange. She also coordinated with other sailors to create posters and send mass emails requesting toys.
“We were out of toys, so the contribution from the Navy Reserve really helped out,” said Sgt. Fernando Aguirre, Inspector-Instructor, Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marines.
According to Aguirre personnel from the NOSC have helped in the past sorting the toys in the warehouse, but this is the first time they actively took part in the collecting toys for the program.
"I hope we (NOSC Ventura County) continue doing things like this, not just for Toys for Tots, but other similar programs," said Yeoman 1st Class Rena Eugeni, Navy Reserve, Commander, Navy Installations Command, Port Hueneme. "It's a great program, and it allows us to show that we really care about the kids our community that we all live in."
"This program helps out so many families, and I am glad to be volunteering for a good cause," said Equipment Operator 1st Class Michael Lopez, 1st Naval Construction Regiment. "When we pass out information and collect toys, they tell us 'thank you' for our service, and it gives us a chance to interact with the community."
The Marines’ objective for the Toys for Tots program is the “development of one of our nation’s most valuable resources – our children.”
"I hope all the children feel that they are loved, thought about and cared for, even by people they don't know and may never meet," said Tan.