FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (Dec. 22, 2011) -- Far from Santa's workshop at the North Pole, Sgt. Jessica Alexander wrapped hundreds of gifts for needy military children on Fort Leavenworth.

This year, Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers helped Santa coordinate presents for 200 children, each receiving three or four presents. The "nice" list of needy children was submitted to BOSS President Alexander and fulfilled using the Angel Tree at the Post Exchange. Patrons were able to choose a tag with the age, gender and wish of the child. There were about 200 children from military families and 35 from KVC, the state agency for foster care and social welfare services across Kansas.

Some patrons chose unwrapped toys, others just gave cash. By Dec. 19, Alexander filled two office rooms with wrapped presents.

"A retired Navy officer donated about $300 to buy gifts for a sick child," she said. "I talked to him in person and he wanted to make sure that sick kid got a nice Christmas this year."

The Fort Leavenworth Marine contingent was responsible for the local U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program. Staff Sgt. Jose Perdomo said, as of Dec. 20, 371 children have already received gifts. The toys were distributed through the off-post Leavenworth Assistance Center, which serves needy families throughout the area.

Each of the 371 children received four gifts -- one large, one medium and two small gifts.

Perdomo said the schools on post were especially supportive of the toy drive, with each school filling at least two or three boxes with toys. The box at the PX was also filled several times, Perdomo said.
Off post, the Toys for Tots boxes were filling throughout Leavenworth, too.

"The Citizens Bank on South Fourth Street, they're one of our biggest donors," Perdomo said. "Those ladies love shopping for us."

Cubic Corporation, a defense contractor in downtown Leavenworth, was another large toy donor. Perdomo also said the motorcycle clubs around the community got together and had a toy drive to support the children. He said despite economic difficulties, people have still been willing to step up and give toys to needy children.

"Considering the economy, we're definitely trying to pitch it out there, and still trying to get the same awareness and support, if not better," he said.