FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division secured their positions on Santa's "nice list" last week when they joined forces with the local Salvation Army to make Christmas a little brighter for children in the Fairbanks community.

Pfc. Thomas Andersen, B Company, 1-24th, was the primary organizer for the battalion's toy drive and chose the Salvation Army as the recipient of the toys because of their proven record of helping families in Alaska and the Fairbanks community. Serving the people of Alaska since 1898, the Salvation Army works alongside supporters and other nonprofit organizations in 16 communities across the state providing a range of services from emergency assistance and disaster relief to children's and youth programs and camps, recovery programs and senior outreach.

Soldiers in 1-24th collected 150 toys for the Salvation Army's toy give-away and according to Andersen, he did not have to coerce Arctic Legion Soldiers to get involved with the project.
"They were happy to donate and very motivated to do it," Andersen said. "Most of them have kids themselves."

Although initially a B/1-24th endeavor, the project became a battalion-wide effort and led to the toy drive's success, said Sgt. Jeffrey Maring, B/1-24th. "The battalion really stepped up," he said. "A lot of our sister companies had (other) individual projects going as well."
Andersen said 1-24th Soldiers also collected personal hygiene products to give to a homeless outreach program in town in addition to the toy drive.

"I think we did (well)," Andersen said. "I did not think we were going to get 150 toys. That is pretty impressive."

Giving back to the community during the Christmas season and year-round is a vital part of the battalion's mission at home and when the unit deploys with 1-25th SBCT next spring, Maring said. "This is an important part of what we do," he said. "We're very pleased with how this project turned out."

Soldiers from B/1-24th also participated with the Salvation Army's toy drive distribution Thursday handing out toys to children and families from the community.