14th Annual Randy Oler Operation Toy Drop delivers
December 22, 2011
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Dec. 22, 2011) -- Visitors walking through main entrance of Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte, N.C., are surrounded by light. The hospital's prism design fills them with an unexpected sense of hope, as the hospital is home to 234 children ranging in age from newborns to 18 years old.
The children of Levine Children's Hospital suffer from serious illnesses including cancer and leukemia, yet were all smiles when Soldiers, Airmen and Carolina Panther players visited the hospital, Dec. 19.
As part of the 14th Annual Randy Oler Memorial Operation Toy Drop, Levine Children's Hospital was one of many recipients of toys donated by participants of the charitable, airborne operation hosted by the U.S. Army Civil Affairs & Psychological Operations Command (Airborne), or USACAPOC(A), headquartered at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Service members from the Army and Air Force, and players from the Carolina Panthers, took toys and clothes to the hospital, in hopes of raising some holiday cheer. The Panther players had the day off, but there was no hesitation for the players to spend the day with these children.
"We kind of jumped at the opportunity to come out here," said Dan Conner, linebacker for the Carolina Panthers. "It is unbelievable when you see the kids' faces when they come in. You get to see them pick out a toy, meet some of the players and meet some Army guys. As a kid it has to be a great experience. It is something where you can put a smile on kids' faces who are in tough situations."
And those smiles are what keep some of the Soldiers coming back to Operation Toy Drop, year after year.
"This is the side of Toy Drop that very few people get to see," explained Master Sgt. James McCloskey, a retention noncommissioned officer at USACAPOC(A). "It's a special thing for me especially because I spent the first couple years of my life in the children's hospital in Philadelphia. So to come in here and understand the extent of what some of these kids are going through, it's an incredible feeling."
Levine Children's Hospital received a fraction of the 20,000 toys donated to Operation Toy Drop in 2011. The rest are being distributed throughout the Carolinas and eight other locations to hospitals, children's homes, orphanages and families in need this holiday season.