By Jameson Cardenas, AMCDecember 20, 2012
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (Dec. 20, 2012) -- As part of the season of giving, the Corpus Christi Army Depot participated in the Toys For Tots campaign, delivering hundreds of toys and bikes to needy children throughout South Texas.
This year, Corpus Christi Army Depot, or CCAD, and partners brought in 360 pedal toys (bikes and big wheels) and 65 boxes full of toys, as well as roughly 2,000 dollars in cash donations for the 2012 Toys for Tots holiday campaign.
Army and Marine Reservists helped CCAD personnel load the toys into convoys and delivered them to the local collection point at Sunrise Mall.
"It's amazing. I would have never expected a turnout like this," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 George Aldridge III, CCAD Toys for Tots coordinator. "Seeing the people's faces as they're carrying the toys out and loading them up -- they're happy. They're happy to help out those less fortunate."
He added that many asked to volunteer and do more -- something that is not out of the ordinary for the folks at the Army depot.
For people like Stephen McCravy, CCAD crew chief and assistant coordinator for Hangar 44, involvement and effort toward giving back to the community is the norm. McCravy has been assisting the Toys for Tots campaign for three years now. Outside of work, he runs a car show to benefit Toys for Tots. The car show is in its eighth year.
"It's my way of giving back to the community and making sure that kids are as happy as possible at this time of year," said McCravy. "There are a lot of kids who are in need and just feel left out."
Talking about his child with a severe mental handicap and adopted by a foster family, McCravy said, "[Toys for Tots] is our way of giving back, especially my way. We know what it means for a child to have nothing."
Gunnery Sgt. Marcelino Barajas, operations chief for Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Marines, has been the Toys for Tots coordinator at Naval Air Station-Corpus Christi for two years. His objective is to exceed the organization's goal of delivering one toy for every child, but that isn't enough for him. He aims to double that donation to two toys for every child.
Despite a drawback of donations nationwide this year, Barajas still has that goal in mind.
"I'm not going to stop until I achieve it, but just knowing that each child will have a Christmas present -- that alone is well worth the sacrifice," Barajas said.
Aldridge and Barajas will each have a change of duty station next year, but promise they will be involved in Toys for Tots in some way at their new homes.
"[Toys for Tots] is something that stuck with me and that I'll keep with me forever," said Barajas.
McCravy added, "I believe that God blessed me with the ability to do a lot of things, and I think it's a waste to sit back and not take advantage of that."