By Keith Desbois, CASCOM Public AffairsDecember 9, 2011
BLACKSTONE, Va. - Santa Claus relies on his sleigh and eight reindeer for the bulk of his mission to deliver toys to children around the world, but every once in a while he calls in some help when a special delivery is required.
That help came in the form of Soldiers from the Quartermaster School's Aerial Delivery and Field Services Department which is responsible for training officer and enlisted personnel from all branches of the armed services, allied nations and civilians as parachute riggers, airdrop and sling load inspectors and shower, laundry and clothing repair specialists.
More than 30 instructors and students participated in the Dec. 8, transportation of toys for the Blackstone community. A sling load consists of hooking a pallet to the bottom of a helicopter and delivering it to a remote location.
"We have enough toys here to provide 15 children with two Christmas presents each," said Sgt. Maj. Tonika E. Scott-Morris, ADFSD sergeant major.
Scott-Morris was the driving factor behind making the toy delivery possible. After being invited to the annual sling load toy delivery event at Fort Bragg, N.C., this year, she thought that a similar event for a local community would be a worth-while endeavor. With planning and support, she was able to put the whole event together in a short time.
"It took about two weeks to put this together, so the big challenge was collecting the toys," Scott-Morris said. "I talked to the cadre at ADFSD, and they came together to donate all the toys we had."
Once the delivery was safe on the ground, the Soldiers surrounded the pallet to unwrap the precious cargo contained inside. The toys were then presented to Jane S. Barnes, executive director of the Blackstone Chamber of Commerce, for distribution to deserving families in the community.
"I think it is wonderful that the Soldiers would take the time to do this. It was just amazing the way the helicopter delivered the toys," Barnes said. "I look forward to continuing this next year and making it an even bigger event."
Scott-Morris is looking forward to next year's event and is enthusiastic that the unit will continue and expand on her idea.
"We care about the community, and we care about the children. We want them to have a Merry Christmas," she said.