By Ms. Stacy M Sanning (Regional Health Command Europe)December 29, 2016
Although Marines are often referred to by their nickname, Devil Dogs, the Marines assigned to Wounded Warrior Battalion East at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center proved to have hearts of gold, collecting toys to bring holiday cheer to local children.
The Marine Liaison Detachment, with help from Army and Air Force units, collected more than 880 toys throughout December during their annual Toys for Tots drive at various locations in the Kaiserslautern Military Community. The Marines distributed the toys to the German Red Cross in Landstuhl, a children's clinic and Ronald McDonald House in Homburg, and to military families at the 212th Combat Support Hospital on Rhine Ordnance Barracks and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
"Most American military and government civilians here in Germany can typically count on a regular paycheck to help pay for gifts for their families," said Sgt. Mayra Lopez from the Marine Liaison Detachment. "But we have to remember that not everyone has the extra money available to provide gifts to their children and we wanted to help those families this holiday season."
Lopez, along with fellow Marines and Airmen who helped with the collection, personally distributed toys to local German and refugee families from the Landstuhl community at the German Red Cross offices in Landstuhl Dec. 14 and 16. As parents came in, they described their children's ages and interests so the volunteers could help sort through dolls, bicycles and action figures to help ensure each child received the perfect gift.
"Thank you very much for helping local families who are not in the position to buy many presents for their kids," said Landstuhl Mayor Ralf Hersina. "You bring this special glow to the eyes of the kids...it is something very special that you are doing."
Hersina presented a monetary donation from the City of Landstuhl and students from local Landstuhl area schools collected almost 200 bags of food to give the families.
The students donated directly to the Landstuhl food bank called Tafel, an organization that collects extra food from grocery stores that is still safe for consumption. Tafel provides this food to needy families at low cost.
According to Ute Mueller, public relations officer at the German Red Cross in Landstuhl, the Tafel serves more than 500 clients with around 1,000 children in the community. Mueller added that the American military community has been working with the Tafel to provide toys to local children every holiday season since the food bank program began in 2007.
"Toys for Tots gave so many toys that we expect every family who visits us this week will be able to give all their children a gift this year at Christmas," said Mueller.