‘Tis the season for giving, they say, and for Atlantic Logistics, that means TOYS – preferably something that won’t shoot your eye out. Although we do our best to give throughout the year, December will always feel like a special time, when Christmas – and kids – are on our mind.
We do a toy drive each year, led by the esteemed Tali Hooper (the resident Big Sis), who leads the collection efforts. Last year, because of Covid-19, only financial donations were possible, she said. She’s happy donating to Toys for Tots this year made seeing the donated toys a reality.
“I chose Toys for Tots because we get to assist local families and help take away the worry of paying for Christmas presents when they can’t afford it,” said Hooper, a Logistics Associate. “I enjoyed being able to package all the toys for the families and take part in their Christmas gift giving.”
In addition to spearheading the office toy drive, Hooper also recently volunteered at the Toys for Tots warehouse, where she was joined by two other Atlantic Logistics employees, Amanda Devol and Lisa Cribb. All three decided to spend their Day of Service making some children’s Christmas wishes a reality. Atlantic Logistics allows each employee to volunteer their time with a nonprofit or charity of their choosing for a full day’s pay once each year.
As always, the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program collects new, unwrapped toys throughout October, November and December to distribute as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community. The Marines who staff the toy drive get rotated every few years and this is the first year for Gunnery Sergeant Ryan Terry, who is serving as the Local Campaign Coordinator. It’s a lot, he says.
“Many individuals start making a request to be a drop site location in October,” Terry said, “and we deal with numerous phone calls, all while trying to make sure we have enough toys. We’ll reach out to news outlets, letting individuals know we are collecting donations and telling people they can apply. We have to set up collection sites as well… there’s a ton of things to be done.”
But all the hard work is worth it in the end, Terry said.
“Being able to help an individual out is the best part about this,” Terry said. “It’s a stressful time of the year. It can be difficult to juggle everything, but seeing Mom and Dad come in is really special. No one understands everyone’s situation, but it makes everyone feel a lot better when we ensure that families have a more enjoyable holiday.”
Atlantic Logistics agrees and is donating approximately $2700 to help Toys for Tots spread some holiday happiness. It’s all part of our Service 365 Program, which donates to a different nonprofit each month of the year.
For Hooper, being able to help out is bittersweet. She loves assisting but hates that the need is so great.
“We bagged so many toys for so many families… probably 50 families total,” she said. “It’s so saddening to see how many families and children are in need. We do what we can, though… This year, Atlantic focused mostly on gifts for teenage girls and boys because they seem to have the least number of gifts come in. We hope to be able to donate even more next year!”
Like Terry, Hooper loves seeing families getting some much-needed relief during the holidays.
“My favorite part of Toys for Tots is being able to see people come in and pick up their toys,” she said. “Sometimes, the parents will bring their kids, too, and you get to see who you are impacting and the happiness your work is bringing them.”
The hard work will continue for Terry and his team all the way up to Dec. 21, as Toys for Tots will continue to accept donations until then.
“This year, we’ve collected somewhere between 160,000 to 200,000 toys,” Terry said. “Anything that’s left over will be used at the beginning of next year’s campaign. All the donations are carefully stored in a warehouse and used to jumpstart the next year’s campaign so we can help less fortunate children and contribute to better communities in the future.”