The 412th Security Forces Squadron Training Section held a Ruck March and Toy Drive Dec. 20 at the Center for Excellence.
The toy drive, more affectionately known as “Operation Play and Sleigh,” brought in more than $2,000 worth of toys from 65 participants. All of the toys were donated to the A. Miriam Jamison Children’s Center in Kern County.
“We have members in our section that have been in foster home systems,” said Tech. Sgt. Megan Harper, 412th SFS, unit trainer. “We want to give back to our community that’s going through what some of our members have gone through.”
Each participant carried their donations in their ruck for a 3.5 mile course that they walked or ran. After finishing the course, the donations were given to Carl Guilford, Program Director of the A. Miriam Jamison Children’s Center, an emergency center for abused and neglected children.
According to Guilford, the toys collected are used year-round. Some are used for Christmas while others are used for birthdays, the tooth fairy and behavior modification.
“It’s important because many children come from very poor families where the parents can’t afford toys,” said Guilford. “It helps them deal with a sense of loss and take their mind off of their troubles for a while.”
The center, which has 56 beds, hosts an average of 103 children every month. Typically, a child that is brought in by local law enforcement or a social worker, will stay at the center for 3-5 days and in some cases up to six months.
“Children use so much of their imagination playing with toys,” said Guilford. “Like a child can learn to be nurturing playing with a baby doll. Toys for children are really important, especially around the holidays.”