JCW supports Toys for Tots campaign

Published 8:57 pm Saturday, December 15, 2012

Workers at Joint and Coalition Warfighting in North Suffolk, formerly the U.S. Joint Forces Command, pose for the camera with a pile of toys collected for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots campaign.

On a bright, fresh Friday morning, a different kind of cadence call could be heard from the College Drive Applebee’s parking lot.

One voice: “I say ‘Jingle,’ you say ‘Bells.’” Many voices: “I say ‘Jingle,’ you say ‘Bells.’”

One voice: “Toys for Tots is good for me.” Many voices: “Toys for Tots is good for me.” “Toys for Tots is good for you.” “Toys for Tots is good for you.”

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The cheerful sound off came from a group of runners returning to the Joint and Coalition Warfighting building, formerly the U.S. Joint Forces Command, after a 1 ½-mile run.

Following up behind in his white van — the support vehicle, as it were, though he wasn’t dispensing Gatorade — was John Woleben, Toys for Tots coordinator for Suffolk.

After passing the security kiosks and arriving back at the big square white building, a familiar landmark among North Suffolk’s military facilities and contractors, the runners’ physical exertion wasn’t quite over.

Woleben put them to work loading his white van with — by his count — 805 toys they and others at Joint Staff J7 JCW had collected.

“It’s something we’ve been doing every year for about four years,” explained Staff Sgt. Dale Fuller of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Fuller kicked off the tradition, he said, when he started collecting toys at the building.

He had a year off last year, when he was stationed somewhere else, but headed up the effort again in 2012.

“We put (collection) boxes around the facility, sent out fliers and came up with the idea to do a run,” he said.

“It’s the first year we have done it (the run), and maybe it will continue as a motivation for the collection.”

Fuller said the words used in the cadence call were spontaneous. “You take some of the regular lyrics and turn it into a Christmas theme,” he said.

Maj. Bill Hendricks and a group of Marine Corps reservists started Toys for Tots, which ensures as many children as possible have a gift to unwrap on Christmas morning, in Los Angeles in 1947.

“The next year the Marine Corps adopted it as a program for the reserves,” Fuller said.

Since the campaign began 65 years, the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation has added to local toy collections, like Woleben’s, more than 98 million toys worth over $694 million.