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Toys for Tots

We all remember that infamous letter written many years ago to the editor of one of the eastern newspapers, and which the answer was:  “YES, VIRGINIA – THERE IS A SANTA CLAUS”.  This year – it was the PACIFIC NORTHWEST DIVISION (PNWD) of the Train Collectors Association that was “SANTA CLAUS.


T’was December 14th and all through our city, not many were donating, it was really a pity.   TV stations were pleading over the airwaves with care, in hopes that some would finally be there.  The children, knowing Santa would arrive as always, snuggled down in their beds with visions of toys still dancing in their heads. 


During the 11:00 p.m. news, it was like a cry went out over the air – I sat up straight to really listen with care.  The problem appeared like a picture on the TV screen – HELP – HELP – this really wasn’t a dream.   We could help, I just knew it, in my mind a big plan was taking shape - it was like a loud scream. The donations for the U.S. Marine Corps TOYS for TOTS were falling very short.  I spoke with Barbara after the news and come morning called Merle, then Frank, David and Tom.   E-mails then followed to all board members on the list and within a couple of hours there was approval.  We were going to donate train sets; we were going to make it happen. 


So on December 15th, at 7:00 a.m the marathon began.   I called Lionel – the only contact I had was Chuck Horan (not the right department) but he wasted no time in finding the right man.  Bob Ryder, Vice President of Sales stepped up to the plate.   He needed time to find out what sets were available and quote us a price.  7:45 the phone rang again and much to my delight – the reception very positive -  Lionel  had 40 sets available - Twenty-five “Thomas the Tank” sets and fifteen of the fabulous “Copper Range Mine” sets. 


Now we had to get them to Seattle – no small chore.  With only 5 days before the Marines were to deliver the toys, we had to move fast and fast wasn’t the word for it.  Lionel shipped via UPS 2nd Day Air on December 16th and all sets arrived at my home on December 20th by 8:30 a.m.  We made some labels to put on the sets that said:  “MERRY CHRISTMAS – We hope you enjoy this train set.  It was donated by the Pacific Northwest Division, Train Collectors Association, Seattle, Washington”.  I then loaded all 40 sets (valued at $7,500) into our van and delivered them to the Marines at 1:30 p.m. on December 20th. 


In the photos, the smiles on the faces of the Marines that helped unload the van depict their pleasure with our donation to Toys for Tots; but if we could have been present on Christmas morning, the smiles on the children’s faces would tell the whole story.



Loading the van...


Getting some help from the guys.


Job well done!