Story and Photos by James Preminger, CCSD Public Relations
It will be a brighter Christmas morning for many San Juan County children thanks to Shiprock High Marine Corps Jr. ROTC cadets collecting new toys for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots in San Juan County, New Mexico.
“This is kids helping kids. A lot of these toys are going to go to the indigent families in the area,” said Jason Crawford, a Marine Corps veteran and the Toys for Tots coordinator in San Juan County. “A lot of the layoffs that have happened this year, people being unemployed. It’s hard times around there because of our gas field.”
The cadets—for the third Saturday—will be collecting new toys Dec. 10, 2016 at both Farmington Wal-Marts, Kmart, Big Lots, Sam’s Club, and Sportsman’s Warehouse. Twenty-five Shiprock High cadets also collected toys and monetary donations Nov. 26 and Dec. 3 at those locations.
“The kids get a huge satisfaction knowing they’re helping all the younger kids in the community by ensuring that they have a happy Christmas—and are able to open a present on Christmas day,” said Sgt. Maj. Leonard Maldonado, a co-ROTC instructor at Shiprock High.
Five cadets collecting toys Dec. 3 in front of the Farmington Kmart store seemed to be enjoying the day, even with the temperature in the low 40’s and donations slowing down in the afternoon compared to the morning hours.
“I volunteered to help instead of staying home,” said cadet Pfc. Uriah Manygoat, a Shiprock High freshman. “They (the people donating) are helping kids with their needs and being cared for. Sometimes kids don’t get what they want and it’s sad.”
The other cadets at the Kmart location were Sgt. Morgan Joe, Lance Corporal Jaqueline Medalle, Sgt. Courtney Garcia, and Sgt. Wynter Yabeny.
The Shiprock High School Marine Corps Jr. ROTC unit has volunteered with the program for 13 years.
“The ROTC love to do it. This is community service ROTC units need to do anyway. What better way to do it then to have fun raising toys that all kids like to play with, including myself,” Crawford said, adding the Toys for Tots is working through the local Salvation Army to distribute the toys.
See another story on the Shiprock High School Marine Corps Jr. ROTC: Shiprock High ROTC Cadets Participate in National Park Service Centennial Celebration at Mesa Verde National Park; USS Mesa Verde Captain Visits Shiprock High School Marine Corps Jr. ROTC in Shiprock