KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii -- Here come the Red Dragons with an aircraft full of toys. Nearly 2,000 toys to be exact.
For the second year, U.S. Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor squadron 268 and 4th Force Reconnaissance Company delivered toys from Oahu to the island of Hawaii on Dec. 11, 2020. The Marines transported 850 pounds of toys to the Salvation Army and ultimately children in need during this holiday season.
U.S. Marine Capt. Kerri Bortz, pilot, stated, “COVID-19 has placed a huge stress on families across the country and we’re proud to be able to assist the Salvation Army in bringing some much-needed cheer to these children.”
The Marine Corps’ partnership with Toys for Tots has long been known, delivering hope to less fortunate children since 1947.
U.S. Marine, 1st Sgt. Jeremy Bland, 4th Force Recon. Co. explained that as “the only reserve unit in all of Hawaii, we are the ones that are responsible for the collection of toys and distribution of toys.”
As a reserve unit, they rely on volunteers to assist in the collection. One reservist Marine volunteer, in particular, Pfc. Ryan Lake has dedicated countless hours to the program spending full days supporting the mission, 0800-2100.
While collecting toys throughout all of Hawaii, the unit took time to ensure the toys went to the facility in the most need, throughout the Hawaiian Islands. This year in particular, with current events, Kona was in need.
In line with Toys for Tots, the Salvation Army collects much-needed gifts and toys for children in need on the island of Hawaii. Toys can be stuffed, educational, or interactive to fit children up to age 12.
In total, 4th Force Recon. Co. collected and distributed 18,000 toys and purchased an additional $40,000.00 worth of toys with the monetary donations to the Toys for Tots fund.
The number of toys donated to the Kona facility will allow countless families to stress a little less during this holiday season.
The Kona Salvation Army was excited about the delivery and relieved they could assist the increased requests by families this holiday season.
“As a Marine Corps Aviation, we train to support the mission of our fellow Marines on the ground. Today we had the unique privilege of supporting our Ohana here in Hawaii,” said Bortz.
For this holiday season, the Hawaii Marines are mission complete.