Contractor brightens Christmas with giftsPublished 9:00pm Saturday, November 17, 2012
The 2012 Toys For Tots campaign received a major boost in Suffolk Thursday when employees at the Lockheed Martin Center for Innovation donated 25 bicycles and other gifts for needy children this Christmas.
More than 100 workers at the aerospace and defense contractor’s North Suffolk facility were responsible for the donations. Each bike came with a helmet and lock.
During an official ceremony beside an indoor lighthouse, which is the focal point of the facility on Harbour View Boulevard, Lockheed Martin employees also presented boxes of toys and a $1,500 check for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve campaign.
“When I say special event, it really is … it’s an act of extraordinary dedication and extraordinary generosity,” said Center for Innovation Vice President Jim McArthur.
Giving back to the community is part of Lockheed Martin’s culture, he said. “Volunteerism and community giving … are part of our values and culture, and this is a great example of our commitment to those values,” he added. “It’s really individuals that are making this contribution.”
Accepting the donation, John Woleben, the campaign’s Suffolk coordinator, wearing a Toy For Tots cap, said, “The back of my head says ‘A toy for every child.’ That’s what Toys For Tots is all about.”
The program has been blessed by the generosity of organizations such as Lockheed Martin, Woleben said. He described the North Suffolk presentation, which included an early Thanksgiving lunch with all the trimmings, as one of Suffolk’s two or three major Toys For Tots events.
“The foundation requested we not spend more than $30 per toy, but I do make exceptions for bicycles. This is so helpful to the program … that’s what it’s all about,” he said.
The event was attended by two Marines, Sgt. Jonathon Cheng, the corps’ Suffolk-area recruiter, and Pfc. Khalil Traynham-Wills, a 2012 Lakeland High School graduate.
“I think it’s a great campaign,” Traynham-Willis said. “Every kid deserved that chance to wake up Christmas morning, go downstairs and see that bike with a big bow on it.”
The $1,500 will be spent with trusted toy wholesalers, Woleben said, buying toys worth between $3,500 and $4,500 retail.
Woleben has been the program’s Suffolk coordinator for nine years, and has been involved in some capacity with Toys For Tots for over 20 years.
The campaign, launched in Suffolk two weeks ago with a Hampton Roads Radio Control club fly-in at Lone Star Lakes, can use as many toys as possible, according to Woleben.
To support Toys For Tots, donate to the Suffolk News-Herald Cheer Fund by mailing a check to P.O. Box 1220, Suffolk, VA 23439 or bringing it by the office between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The Cheer Fund raises money to purchase toys for Suffolk children. Last year, 4,655 local children were helped by the Cheer Fund’s efforts.