Toys for Tots program brings an early Christmas to Cordova kids

The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program, with the Cordova School District and local volunteers, brought an early Christmas to many Cordova youngsters on Dec. 22.

They distributed 470 toys to children up to the age of 18.

Sgt. Mauricio S. Sandoval, substance abuse control officer, and Toys for Tots coordinator, at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, contacted the CSD administration, who agreed to the be local point of contact for the mission.

“Gifts were dispersed to students during school on Dec. 22. Non-school aged children (and those children not currently enrolled), received their gifts after school that same day in the Mt. Eccles’ commons, where they were able to meet Santa, enjoy hot chocolate and cookies, thanks to Sandie Ponte, and pick-up a gift!” said Kristy Andrew, the director of budget and finance at the Cordova School District.

A toy-wrapping party was held at Mt. Eccles Elementary School earlier in December, to wrap the 470 gifts donated by the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation out of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage. Misty Jensen and Sandie Ponte volunteered their time to assist with the present wrapping event.
Photo courtesy Kristy Andrew/For The Cordova Times

Andrew, with help from the CSD administrative team and Cordova High School’s National Honor Society Members, spearheaded the event.

The program was free to all Cordova residents.

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“The event did not cost the district any real resources, but was made possible by the time freely given by all of our amazing volunteers,” Andrew said.

The program, a first for Cordova, was a collaborative effort between Toys for Tots, CSD and numerous volunteers within the community. Alaska Airlines volunteered to transport the toys to Cordova.

“Everyone, young and old, enjoys receiving gifts,” Andrew said. “If Toys for Tots made the children of Cordova smile and had a positive impact on their holiday, then I believe the purpose of Toys for Tots was served,” she said.

“Helping make the holidays enjoyable for our kids makes it a success in my eyes. We received a lot of positive feedback from parents and community members, and the children really seemed to like their toys,” she said.

The mission of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children.

“I’d like to thank all the volunteers who helped make this event possible. I’m new to the community, and I was absolutely thrilled with the response from those who wanted to make this event great for our kids,” Andrew said.

Unclaimed gifts were donated to the Salvation Army Cordova Post for local distribution as they see fit, Andrew said.

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