Toys for Tots Marathon Weekend

December 4, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Many Fresno County families are struggling this holiday season, so toys are often a luxury they can't afford. But the Marines are once again playing Santa this year as the Toys for Tots Marathon kicks off early Friday morning.The Toys for Tots Marathon weekend is officially underway. The Marines are present and they've got a tough mission ahead of them because the need for toys is greater than ever.

United Way Fresno County is a long way from the North Pole, but some letters to Santa ended up here.

"Dear Santa," writes Desiree, "I love when you bring presents for my family, and for my brother and sister and my cousins."

But what Desiree doesn't know, Christmas might not come for her family this year.

"I'm getting so many calls every day from parents, saying they find themselves without a job. 'And we don't want our kids to go without Christmas this year,'" said Linda Dippel with United Way Fresno County.

That's what keeps Corporal Joseph Reissland going, delivering toy drop boxes to businesses, nonstop, up until the last minute. "The expression on the parent's face, even just giving it to the parents, it's rewarding; so all the hard work is definitely worth it."

Wednesday, Reissland received the master list of toy requests: 107,000!

The Marines' warehouse is slowly but surely starting to fill up with toys. But Santa's helpers need about 75,000 more. That's why The Toys for Tots Marathon this weekend is crucial to meeting the need.

"We're the marines, we have a mission to accomplish, and we won't take time off until that mission is accomplished."

All recipients are Fresno County families, and next year, if they can, many will pay it forward.

"I think people remember when they were in a situation and as soon as they can, they do wanna give back. It really is better to give than to receive," said Dippel.

"Toys for Tots" can make cash donations stretch even further.

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