I just read the article, When Santa Wore Combat Boots by Trina Tessier.
Trina gives thanks for the efforts of the USMC for the Toys for Tots. I too have had experiences with Toys for Tots, both as a Marine Brat and as an adult.
My Dad, a Marine Staff/Gunny Sgt. stationed at Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station, was one of the Santas back in 1962 and 1963 (at 11 & 12 years old, I had a ball as one of the elves). Toys for Tots had been started in 1947.
The Marines found that collecting and distributing toys for the kids on base was such a good idea, they expanded it to cover civilian kids.
Years later, between 1981 and 1993, I was a United Way Director (yes, a civilian!). In that capacity, I was responsible for running the Toy Bureau of the Oranges and Maplewood (New Jersey). As the head of the Toy Bureau, I was able to play “Santa” for twelve years, much as my Dad did back in ’62 and ’63.
Then, as in the 60’s, the Marines always came through by distributing some of the Toys for Tots gifts through us. Marines…Semper Fi!!!
Marines come through. Gung Ho!
Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in Military Brats Online in 1997.