FORT BLISS, Texas - Smiles and laughter filled the air from military children at the Milam Youth Activity Center’ gymnasium as they received a gift from Toy Industry Foundation and the Boys and Girls Club of America Military Services on April 17.
Several hundred service members and their children endured the gusty El Paso winds to participate in the first Play Comfort Toy Giveaway here.
The line to enter snaked from the front door all the way along the side of the building as parents and children patiently waited for the doors to open for the 4 p.m. start.
Everyone who entered the building was given a purple, Marti Gras like beads to represent and support this month’s appreciation of the military child.
Col. Brant V. Dayley, garrison commander, gave the opening speech by thanking the volunteers, Toy Industry Foundation, and military children for their contributions and sacrifices they make as they grow up in the military community.
“Play Comfort is a way to celebrate the proud, ready and resilient military children,” said Dayley.
He also took time to give a garrison coin to Susan Goss, director of MYAC, to thank her for all of her hard work and dedication for the children of service members here.
“This event is to let the military children know that society thanks them for their service,” said Goss. “They [military children] make sacrifices and they, in their own way, serve too.”
Once released, the children scattered to their appropriate age station with excitement and laughter. The stationed were manned by volunteers from the Better Opportunity for Single Soldiers and Better Opportunity for Single Parents who helped the children find their perfect toy.
During the “searching” time, music filled the gymnasium disc jockeyed by military children Miguel Villarreal, 12, Tyree Coker, 17, and Morgan Drake, 13.
MYAC ordered more than 60 pizzas and had homemade sugar cookies made by the children from the youth center for refreshments.
Jean Butler, chief executive officer for TIF, flew in from New York to thank the military children and the service members for their service and sacrifice.
TIF, a non-profit organization, donated more than 3,000 toys worth more than $75,000 for military children here and has travelled all over the world giving away toys and bringing smiles to the children’s faces.
“TIF’s goal is to help bring joy to under privilege children, children affected by disasters, foster children, and military children,” said Butler. “Today, we would like to give a toy to every military child on this post.”