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Toys for Tots not hampered by weather in Marysville

From left, Quil Ceda Village Wal-Mart Good Works Coordinator Mary Jane Hayes, Marine corporals Concetta Leggio and Justin Hale, Staff Sgt. Diego Perez, Michelle Esteban from KOMO TV, and Marine Sgt. Michael Beaton load donated toy items into the trailer in front of the Wal-Mart Dec. 12. - KIRK BOXLEITNER The Marysville Globe
From left, Quil Ceda Village Wal-Mart Good Works Coordinator Mary Jane Hayes, Marine corporals Concetta Leggio and Justin Hale, Staff Sgt. Diego Perez, Michelle Esteban from KOMO TV, and Marine Sgt. Michael Beaton load donated toy items into the trailer in front of the Wal-Mart Dec. 12.
— image credit: KIRK BOXLEITNER The Marysville Globe

QUIL CEDA VILLAGE — “Toys for Tots” held its first collection drive at the Wal-Mart in Quil Ceda Village Dec. 12, and in spite of chill winds and pouring rain, the U.S. Marines were kept busy loading their truck trailer with donated toy items from 6 a.m. through 7 p.m., as both Wal-Mart shoppers and passing motorists made donations.

“We’ve had so many people handing us money and checks that it must be in the hundreds of dollars by now,” said Mary Jane Hayes, Good Works coordinator for the Wal-Mart in Quil Ceda Village, shortly after noon. “People just drive by and hand us cash. I was such a nervous wreck about this that I couldn’t even sleep last night, but the outpouring from the community has been even more than I expected. Plus, the crowd loves the Marines.”

While Hayes hopes that Toys for Tots becomes an annual holiday tradition at the Quil Ceda Village Wal-Mart, she’s already decided that the collection tents will include heaters next year, “especially for female Marines who have to wear skirts in this weather.”

Cpl. Concetta Leggio, the female Marine in question, was joined by fellow corporals Michael Flores and Justin Hale, LCpl. Jay Schwab, Sgt. Michael Beaton and Staff Sgt. Diego Perez. All six Marines were decked out in their dress uniforms, which they managed to keep looking sharp in spite of the rain and their steady stream of work in loading donations into their trailer.

Magic Toyota of Edmonds gave the Marines a workout when they drove up with a car whose back half was literally filled to the ceiling with donated toy items. Magic Toyota employees Peter Chung and Scott Markley explained that they’d been collecting the toys over the course of the past month and a half, and that they decided to drop them off at the local Wal-Mart after hearing about its Toys for Tots collection drive on the radio that morning.

“In this economy, there are a lot more children in need, and a lot more people not buying toys,” Beaton said Dec. 12. “We’ve had a good turnout today, though. Wal-Mart has really pushed it and we’ve gotten a lot of good coverage.”

For Schwab, the day was something of a homecoming, since Marysville is his former hometown.

“I went to school here from K-12,” Schwab said. “I graduated in 2005. The last time I was here was last December, but I was just visiting. I’ve done Toys for Tots before, but for groups of car enthusiasts. I’d never done one in front of a store and it’s been nice to see how many people respond, especially in a down economy. Even if it’s not a lot, they’re all giving what they can to make somebody else’s Christmas a little better.”

Marysville resident Dennis Sutton has had family members who have benefitted from programs such as Toys for Tots, but his own motivation for contributing to such programs each holiday season has more to do with his own relative good fortune.

“I’m just paying it forward,” Sutton said, as he handed over his purchases to the Marines. “Normally, we go to the Giving Tree, but this year, we thought we’d let the Marines take care of it. We always try to do something, especially when it’s hard like this, when so many people are out of work and so many are wanting.”

For Joseph Pirak, who drove from Port Susan to fill up his shopping cart with items to donate to Toys for Tots, the connection is more personal.

“When I was a small child, my parents had it tough and, one year, it looked like we wouldn’t have any presents,” Pirak said. “Then, two cars pulled up with a turkey dinner and presents. I’ve never forgotten that. I do this every year. Even if all you can give is a dollar, it helps.”

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