Children were all smiles when the Marines marched into Hartnell Collegeís Steinbeck Hall on Friday, December 22. Bearing gifts of shiny new toys for children in Hartnellís Child Development Centers and their siblings, the four members of the United States Marine Corps office in Salinas were kept busy for nearly an hour as families came to receive their toys and to snack on goodies provided by the future teachers club from Hartnellís Center for Teacher Education.
Sisters Emily, 9, Gaby, 7, and Susie, 3, pose with Marine Corps Private Jason Jefferson and the new toys they received from the Marine Corps' Toys for Tots party at Hartnell College.
Juan, Perla, and their 18-month-old daughter, Yulisa, thank Corporal Jared Koser for the new toy from Toys for Tots.
More than 300 children from low-income families were delighted with Christmas coming a few days early.
Three-and-a-half year old Seth proclaimed his new farm set a "cool toy," while two four-year-old girls played with their new art supplies and dolls at the next table. Isaac was delighted with his new yellow bulldozer.
Spreading this Christmas cheer were Private First Class Kyle Genegabus, Private Eddy Gutierrez, Private Jason Jefferson, and Corporal Jared Koser.
Through their Toys for Tots program, the U.S. Marine Corps hopes to "deliver a message of hope to needy youngsters that will motivate them to grow into responsible, productive, patriotic citizens and community leaders." The campaign begins in October each year with the collection of new toys, and culminates in the distribution of the toys just before Christmas.
This is the first time that Hartnellís Child Development Centers have participated in this event.
"This is such a wonderful thing for our families. We hope this will become an annual tradition," said Center Director Linda Taylor.
Before coming to Hartnell, Corporal Koser had been working on the project every day for about two and a half weeks, collecting and sorting the toys and giving them out to children.
The best part for him?
"Seeing them smile," he said, gesturing to a three-year-old girl who couldnít have looked happier with her pretty new toy.