CLEARWATER, Fla. — Being a member of the U.S. Military often means a career of sacrifices when it comes to family. Many of our men and women in uniform struggle to buy presents for their children for Christmas.
However, there is a nonprofit organization based in Clearwater that’s making it their mission to put toys under the tree.
Operation Toy Soldier has set up more than 30 bins across Tampa Bay, 10 of them on St. Pete College campuses, and the goal is always the same, to fill them to the brim with toys.
From stuffed animals to race cars to board games, you’re used to seeing students and faculty carrying books down the hallways of St. Pete College, but this time of year their arms are filled with toys.
“The sacrifices that our service members make, it’s one small thing that we can do to elevate the stress around the holidays,” said Fred Tucker, who works at the St. Pete College Tarpon Springs campus.
Operation Toy Soldier will deliver thousands of new toys to our men and women in uniform at MacDill Air Force Base this holiday season.
“We open up a hangar and we bring all the toys we collected over and the service members get to come in and pick the toys that they want and take home to their kids and everything and it’s just one of my happiest days of the year,” said Tucker.
Operation Toy Soldier says these service members are willing to put their lives on the line for our country, the least we can do is make sure their kids receive a present on Christmas.
“An airman, a private in the army, they clear about $1,200 a month, so do the math, there’s not enough money there, Santa needs some help is what it comes down to,” said Jim Rudolph with Operation Toy Soldier.
He said it’s overwhelming to see these bins overflowing with toys.
“People love military families and this is something they can do that makes a huge impact,” said Rudolph.
The last day to donate toys is Dec. 13. For a complete list of drop-off locations go to Operationtoysoldier.com.
“Well we always say at Operation Toy Soldier it’s not a hand out it’s a way to say thank you,” said Tucker.