Employees break depot's Toys for Tots record
December 13, 2011
RED RIVER ARMY DEPOT, Texas (Dec. 13, 2011) -- Depot members joined together to help the children of the local communities. This year the depot broke its own Toys for Tots record as members donated 500 bicycles, over 1,350 toys, 6,200 non-perishable food items and $875 in monetary contributions.
The depot dedicated the 2011 campaign to memory of Ryan Johns, who worked in the Heavy and Medium Tactical Division of the Directorate for Maintenance.
Johns, who passed away Sept. 25, spent his life helping others.
"Ryan inspired all of us to do better and be better," said Freddie Johns, Ryan's mother, during the Toys for Tots closeout ceremony Dec. 6. "He loved kids from the youngest to the oldest and I'm so glad I got to be his mom. It feels like it was only for 10 minutes because 27 years went by in a hurry."
The Heavy and Medium Tactical Division raised $8,500 which was used for the purchase of 267 bicycles and tricycles. Coordinators for the Heavy and Medium Tactical Division were Tim Pennington and Kathy Casteneda.
Several employees from the division wore shirts during the pickup ceremony with Johns' picture. The shirts were designed by Crystal Taylor.
Taylor's son, Skylar, heard his mother talking about the Toys for Tots campaign and how the depot was dedicating it to Johns. He decided he wanted to play a part as well. The 9-year-old immediately emptied his piggy bank which contained $100 and donated it to help purchase toys.
Everyone who remembers Johns recalls his generosity. In 2007, he donated $1,000 to the Toys for Tots campaign.
"As a mom I was a little concerned when we let him come out here and work with all of you," said Johns as the small crowd laughed. "We didn't have anything to worry about though because you all saw the real Ryan and you embraced him. You loved him and he loved you right back."
Several depot members are already discussing how to make next year's Toys for Tots Campaign better than ever.
"As you can see, Toys for Tots is something very big at this depot and something we all take great pride in," said Deputy Commander Patton Tidwell. "The people here understand how much this campaign helps our local community. I believe we will make next year even better than this year, but this year will always be special with the dedication to Ryan."
Over 20,000 items have been donated by the defense complex since RRAD begin participating with Toys for Tots more than 20 years ago.
Toys for Tots begin in 1947 when Maj. Bill Hendricks and a group of Marine Reservists in Los Angeles collected and distributed 5,000 toys to needy children.
"The people at Red River are very loving and giving and are aware of all the support that the local community has given to this depot over the years," said Mary Jayne Locke, depot coordinator for the campaign.