Marine Pfc. Blake Bush presents a bag full of Toys for Tots Saturday to Gunnery Sgt. Marvin Jennings to take to a waiting parent so children can enjoy Christmas.
ALBANY, Ga. -- The bark came loud and clear, "252, who is on it?"
Marines in camouflage-green ran for numbered 3.5-foot-tall brown bags chock full of toys, while Gunnery Sgt. Marvin Jennings gave the commands.
It was all part of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation Christmas toys for children program held Saturday at the old Belk building on the 100 block of Broad Avenue. Gunnery Sgt. Ernest Thompson said the active and reserve Marines gave more than 11,000 toys out last year.
"This year we met our goal and collected 15,000," Thompson said. "The toys go to Albany and nine counties for Christmas."
In their dress blues, Marines at the counter asked for identification from the parents arriving to collect toys for their tots. The dress-blue Marines would check identity and then say the bag number. Thompson would bark, one two and sometimes more Marines would rush to a bag and grab it in friendly "got-it-first" competition.
A Marine such as Pfc. Blake Bush would the carry the bag out to the parent's car.
"I like doing this because it is giving back to the community," Bush said. "We are Marines. We serve the country any way we can."
With her SUV substituting for Santa's sleigh full of toys, Sharon Spurling gratefully accepted the bag full of toys.
"I think it is wonderful that they do this. The Marines do an awesome job," Spurling said. "After all, it is the season to be giving and some need it a little more than others."
The Marines began giving toys out at 8:30 a.m. and continued to at least 4:30 p.m. People came in at the time they were given by a letter sent out by the Salvation Army.
In the back of the former Belk showroom sat box after box of toys labeled Thomasville, Camilla, Haven of Hope and other destinations. Thanks to the Marines, they will find their way to delight children.