Toy Delivery Appeases Holiday Stress for Soldiers, Builds Community Relationships

Headquarters, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs
Story by Staff Sgt. Kelsey Miller

Date: 11.27.2018
Posted: 02.01.2019 10:35
News ID: 309163
Toy Delivery Appeases Holiday Stress

A bright eyed little girl of about 4 years, ran back and forth from toy filled table, to toy filled table. She pointed to various toys with a smile and a laugh that filled the room. So many toys. As she approached a table there sat a My Little Pony play set which included 3 ponies.

“That one’s the mom, that’s the dad and that’s the baby,” she said pointing to each. She looked up at the woman standing behind her with longing eyes. “Can I have this one?”

The holiday season is upon us. For most it means time with family and friends, traditions and a nice break from the normal everyday pace, but for others, it can be a challenging and stressful time of year.

Leon County Judge, Byron Ryder, and his staff, appeased some of the holiday stress for Soldiers assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division Artillery Brigade, by hosting their annual toy delivery event held in the brigade’s headquarters building, Nov. 27.

Every year Leon County collects toys from citizens within their community to give to Soldiers. It is a tradition that has been carried out for the past several years, and they do it because they want to take care of Soldiers.

“The entire Leon County really comes together every year to do this, said Col. Brett C. Forbes, commander of DIVARTY. “This is one of the ways they give back to service members in general. It is truly a great outpouring, and we really appreciate it. It is unbelievable.”

Relationships built between Army units and their surrounding communities are paramount to the success of the organization as a whole. Units from across Fort Hood are partnered with various surrounding communities as part of the Army’s community relations initiative.

Leon County and DIVARTY have a unique and special relationship because of the distance between the community and Fort Hood. It is not always easy, but it makes collaborations between the two even more special.

“These people are the most incredibly generous and passionate people,” said Maj. Daniel Chase, the DIVARTY Chaplain and the brigade’s community partnership liaison. “They just want to help Soldiers and bring joy to their lives.”

Before the toy delivery event started, Judge Ryder and his staff vigorously set up toys on tables placed in the shape of a horseshoe inside the headquarters conference room, as they eagerly waited for the Soldiers from the unit to arrive.

Then, approximately 50 Soldiers and family members lined up to select and collect toys for their little loved ones.

The conference room opened and, starting with the junior Soldiers, they filed through, scanning the various tables to select a toy for their children. It was a store, without the burden of exchanging money for the unwrapped gifts displayed on the tables.

“The community of Leon County understands the significance of what these Soldiers do,” said Chase. But the chaplain said while the county staff recognizes the contributions of the Soldiers, the significance of their own deeds escapes them. “They don’t even realize the impact they are having.”

As the event wound down, Soldiers walked out of the conference room with smiles on their faces, discussing with each other why they chose what they did for their children. Some even stopped and thanked the county staff and shook their hands in an attempt to show their gratitude.

“It is just so awesome and it makes you feel great,” said Chase with a smile, referring to the kindness of the Leon County community. “It validates you as a Soldier and makes your blood, sweat and tears absolutely worth it. What a great community.”