CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - More than 140 Marines with the 8th Communication Battalion at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., conducted a two-mile Toys for Tots motivational run in the French Creek area, to increase awareness for the charitable foundation, Dec. 13.
The Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Foundation collects new toys from October through December every year in an effort to help those who are less fortunate. The goal of Toys for Tots is to help spread hope and holiday cheer for children and their families each Christmas.
Major Wade Wallace, Service Company commanding officer, 8th Comm. Bn., said the locally donated toys will directly benefit the communities surrounding MCB Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River.
“Every toy that we collect is going to be distributed within this local area for some child who will probably not have anything for Christmas,” said Wallace.
According to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation website, the Marine Corps adopted Toys for Tots, and expanded it into a nationwide community action project as the Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots Program. Marines at each reserve center throughout the nation conduct toy collection and distribution campaigns in the communities surrounding each center. Throughout its history, Toys for Tots has donated more than 469 million toys to more than 216 million children.
Though a formation run for a charity is nothing new, Master Gunnery Sgt. Daniel J. Klarzuk came up with the idea to conduct the run, while holding a toy. Klarzuk worked for Toys for Tots when he was on Inspector-Instructor Duty in Kansas before he came to MCB Camp Lejeune, because “it’s a worthwhile cause.”
“In my last unit, we used to do something similar. We did it with food, canned goods, and dry goods that we would provide to local food kitchens and food banks,” said Klarzuk. “(The company) thought … since we have a lot of younger Marines, toys could be something they can relate to.”
The longer the Marines ran with their toys, the louder the cadence could be heard throughout the French Creek area. The toys ranged from soccer balls and board games, to skateboards and Nerf weapons.
“(The event) was an excellent opportunity and we are very blessed,” said Klarzuk. “We have to be grateful for what we have, and this was an awesome opportunity for us to give back to the community.”
The Toys for Tots run brought in more than 140 toys as Marines lined up in front of the battalion’s headquarters after the run and filled the toy bins.
“The community supports us, and we’re going to support the community,” said Klarzuk.