The VA Hospital is a familiar neighbor in central Fresno but on Thursday it joined a new team at the urging of its staff. Alan Perry heads the Veterans Administration Hospital system here in central California and explained to us what's going on, "We have a lot of Marine Corps veterans on our staff and they asked me, "why isn't the VA involved in this." and I said, "Absolutely, let's get involved."
The official 2010 'Toys for Tots Drive' kicked off this week with the VA hospital as a welcome addition by the United Way and the U.S. Marine Corps. Sgt. Chris Lecureux, "Toys for Tots is supported by the community and you know they're our largest asset. Regardless of who donates what, the community is what fuels Toys for Tots."
With a little help from some young boys sporting Marine Corp T-shirts, the Marines wasted no time getting down to business. Sgt. explained the tactics, "We're distributing drop boxes all over the hospital where they have about 25-hundred people daily come through. So we expect to raise at raise at least 5 to 10 thousand toys with our new relationship with the VA hospital."
The kick off also fostered a friendly rivalry between the new comer - VA Hospital, and long time Toys for Tot supporter, Pelco. Layne Scares of Pelco told us, "I'd like to think that the competitive nature will help increase efforts for the drive and ... hmm, who doesn't welcome a little friendly competition." Mr. Perry agrees, "I don't know what the goal is, but whatever it is, if it has to do with VA being included, we expect to break the goal this year."
Music to the ears of the Marines stationed in Fresno who handle the logistics for the 'Marine Corps Reserves' - the official sponsors of Toys for Tots across the nation.
This year's goal: 140 thousand toys. Sgt. Chris Lecureux summed up the challenge, "Every year the requests get bigger and it's important that we keep building new ties in the community, as in the VA hospital. And every year we get stronger."
All of the sponsors of this year's Toys for Tots drive want to enlist everyone in the valley in helping fill hundreds of collection boxes.
ABC30 will once again hold its annual "Toys for Tots Marathon Weekend" starting December third. Look for information on where you'll find the Action News Team ready to take you donation. ABC30 is proud to be a continuing sponsor of this Holiday toy drive.