Marines start collecting "Toys for Tots"

PHILADELPHIA - December 4, 2009

The military Hum-V riding through Center City had actually been commandeered, if you will, by Marines making pre-Christmas rounds, picking up "Toys for Tots" from drop off sites.

The Marines plan to collect about 150,000 toys for local children who might not otherwise get much at Christmas.

"The economy has brought a lot more needy families. We try to make sure we can help everyone need to," said Gun. Sgt. David Pierson.

Philadelphia Toys for Tots has received more requests than ever. Like their pledge never to leave a marine behind, they don't want to leave any economically disadvantaged children without toys.

The tough marines with tender hearts picked up more than a half dozen boxes of toys from The Inquirer building on South Broad Street, one of 110 local Toys for Tots drop off sites. The mission involved bringing the toys to a military coordinator on Market Street, and adding them to donations from passersby.

Steering the toy recovery mission were North Wales native, Sgt. Brandon Hill, and Cpl. Hernondez Cromwell. While they both have done tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, they say this job is like no other they've been deployed to do.

"This is great. To come out here and pick up toys for kids and take them back and dish them out to different families like that. It's unbelievable," said Sgt. Hill.

"I understand how hard it is sometimes around Christmas time and it feels good to provide for needy children," said Cpl. Cromwell.

Next week the marines will deliver these toys to agencies who will give them to Philadelphia children in time for Christmas. But with so many people struggling this year, the Toys for Tots collection will continue for a few more weeks.

VISIT THE TOYS FOR TOTS WEBSITE for a list of collection box locations.

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