By Stephanie Bryant, Tripler Army Medical Center Public AffairsDecember 22, 2011
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- Soldiers from the Warrior Transition Battalion gathered together Dec. 2 to collect toys to fill a sleigh, here.
Master Sgt. Charles Owens, Warrior Transition Battalion, originally built the sleigh that he tows behind his motorcycle in 2004. Every year since, except for last year when he was deployed, he has rounded up toys for Toys for Tots.
Owens, a Reservist from 9th Mission Support Command, was injured during his deployment last year and is now serving in the WTB.
"This is year is very special because I am in the WTB and it is the wounded warriors stationed in Hawaii who are donating and giving," said Owens. "I think that is special. They are so used to having people take care of them; this is there opportunity to give back to the local community."
The toys are being donated to children living in Hawaii and don't go outside of the islands.
The sleigh that Owens and wife, Joanie, have built this year is a renovated version of the original sleigh from 2004. This year's sleigh has more than 500 lights on it and is decorated in honor of the holidays.
Owens, who has been in the Army for 27 years, says when he drives down the road he gets a great response from others.
"People honk and wave at me as they drive by," said Owens. "I think seeing the sleigh really gets people in the holiday spirit."
However, more important are the toys that fill the sleigh. This year Owens asked for toys for teenagers. He explained that he feels like children age 12-15 years old can be overlooked and makes an cards measuring 4 feet by 8 feet have greeted residents, employees and makes an extra effort to buy gifts geared towards older children.
Sgt. Luke Harvey, WTB, donated money to Owens' effort for the purchase of more toys.
"The holidays are very important to me. I come from a big family. I know what is like to go without and there is no greater gift than giving," Harvey said. "Just to know that the money I donated will buy a toy that will put a smile on some child's face makes it all worth it."
The toys donated by WTB Soldiers filled Owens' sleigh for his ride in the 37th Annual Street Bikers United Toy Run, Dec. 4 that ended at Kapiolani Community College where members of the U.S. Marine Corps and Toys for Tots Hawaii were collecting toys for the organization.