From before dawn to after dusk, each during the the weekend of Dec. 7, the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall community filled collection bags and boxes with goodies in order to make military children smile on Christmas morning.

Three events at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall assisted the Army Community Service's Operation Santa toy drive. The fifth annual Operation Santa basketball tournament, the Senior Fitness Challenge and a 5K distance run were used to gather toys for distribution to military Families.

Reindeer Stampede

Whether called a 5K dash or a trot or run, a stampede of toys was donated at the 2012 5K Reindeer Stampede the early morning of Dec. 7.

The donations collected at the final JBM-HH Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation distance race of the year were the first installment of a wave of new, unwrapped toys that eventually would find their way to the Army Community Service toy drive.

Before sunrise at the Fort Myer Fitness Center, close to 100 runners braved frosty temperatures. Runners were required to donate a new toy as the entry fee. Some interested in running went beyond the call for the toy drive.

Marine Col. Joe Krumm and his wife, Tammy Krumm, ran the stampede, but beforehand, the couple donated a large box of toys to the Operation Santa Drive. They received special mention and an ovation following the run at the awards ceremony.

"The wife acquires these toys throughout the year, and this is a good cause and it is a good excuse to get us out here to do a run," the colonel said.

"We consider ourselves very fortunate; we have everything we need, but there are lots of kids who don't," said Tammy. "If [giving these toys] can make one kid happy, whether getting a doll or something, that's all a great thing."

Scott McCann and Kirsten Fehrenkamp were the overall co-ed winners during the race which was accompanied by mist and rain.

Senior Fitness Challenge and hoops tourney

More than a dozen seniors signed in during the opening 60 minutes of the two-hour event. At a half dozen stations, participants were tested for muscle strength, endurance, balance and flexibility.

Those taking part in the challenge were asked to bring a toy as part of the registration.

While seniors worked with weight curls and stork tests, the toy collection boxes filled with stuffed animals, high-tech toy trucks and books.

Into the evening as the Operation Santa basketball tournament teams ventured onto JBM-HH or Fort McNair for the tourney's opening night, even more toys were collected.

Military basketball players from up and down the eastern seaboard donated anything from puzzles, DVDs and dolls to board games and more toy cars and trucks.

Volunteers take over

At the completion of the weekend collections, a handful of volunteers met at JBM-HH's building 201 for the sorting of the toys.

"We'll do this in just a couple hours," volunteer CJ Buche said of the sorting. "It won't take that long. We're working pretty steadily right now."

Volunteer James Winbush, husband of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Commander Col. Fern O. Sumpter, was on hand for the Monday morning sorting. He joined Miriam Doehnert, Don Bills and Buche in unbagging and separating balls, dolls, toy trucks and even a two-wheel bicycle into age-appropriate categories.

For additional information on the Operation Santa toy drive, call 703-696-3510.

Page last updated Fri December 14th, 2012 at 10:00