Marines prepare for special holiday delivery

The work behind Toys for Tots doesn’t end once the gifts are collected
Published: Dec. 21, 2022 at 9:52 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 21, 2022 at 3:31 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - For a few weeks each year one building at Hunter Army Airfield is transformed into something that looks more like Santa’s workshop than a US Marine facility.

“I think the elves have a little more manpower, but we definitely get a little bit of the feeling,” joked 2022 Toys for Tots Coordinator Sgt. Damion Lewis.

Marines sorting through thousands of toys, roughly 21 thousand so far to be exact.

“Every toy in here got touched by a Marine at some point. There’s no way around it, we don’t have any machinery counting toys for us. It’s a lot of man hours, I think all last week we were here till 9 or 10 p.m.” Sgt. Lewis said.

Sgt. Lewis taking time to walk us through the process Tuesday.

“All our toys come through either our bay door or one of our side doors here.”

From there they sort them into their age groups.

“Once they have their total count they move into their respective bins, you can see the total counts on the outside of those ones. That’s so when we’re filling orders and an organization says, ‘we need a hundred toys.’ It’s easy to say we need four boxes of 25 and then your order is done right there,” explains Sgt. Lewis.

Not only does this process help move things along quicker, but it also gives a visual representation of our giving tendencies.

“So, I’m standing right in front of girls age 4 to 7, which is overflowing, but if you look to the older ages there’s almost nothing there, same thing for younger ages. So, it’s a lifetime bar graph of what gets donated which is usually boys and girls 4 to 7 and we go from zero to 17, so it’s a little harder to fill those requests,” said Sgt. Lewis.

But, as always, the Marines find themselves overwhelmed by the continued generosity of their community.

“We just received today (Tuesday) that pallet right there with monster truck RC cars that are $140 each and we’re getting three pallets of them, which is a crazy amount of money. It’s just the goodness in people to come together for a time like this.”

Although those extra donations mean extra work, for the Marines, well, is it really work if you love what you do?

“This is one of the few things that we as Marines do that gets us involved with the community and those events we go to where we get to see the children, we’re helping makes it all worth it,” says Sgt. Lewis.

And of course, just like Santa’s elves, the real gift of all that work is keeping the joy and magic of the season alive.

“First I just hope they’re happy. The mission of Toys 4 Tots is putting a smile on their face. I like to think the children have no idea we’re doing this, it’s kind of a thankless job, but I look to the parents to just pass it on,” said Sgt. Lewis.