Military families at the Red River Army Depot joined together to help the children of Texarkana in a Toys For Tots drive that broke previous annual records. Members loaded Army trucks with 500 bicycles, 1350 toys, 6,200 non-perishable food items and $875 in cash contributions.
The depot dedicated the 2011 campaign to the memory of one of their own, Ryan Johns, who worked there but passed away Sept. 25, after spending his life helping others.
Several employees from the division wore shirts during the pickup ceremony with Johns’ picture.
Taylor’s son, Skylar, heard his mother talking about the Toys for Tots campaign and how the depot was dedicating it to Johns. He decided he wanted to play a part as well. The 9-year-old immediately emptied his piggy bank which contained $100 and donated it to help purchase toys.
Johns, who is remembered for his generosity, donated $1,000 to the Toys for Tots campaign in 2007.
Several depot members are already discussing how to make next year’s Toys for Tots Campaign better than ever.
“Toys for Tots is something very big at this depot and something we all take great pride in,” said Deputy Commander Patton Tidwell.
Toys for Tots begin in 1947 when Maj. Bill Hendricks and a group of Marine Reservists in Los Angeles collected and distributed 5,000 toys to needy children. The depot in Texas began its participation more than 20 years ago.
“The people at Red River are very loving and giving and are aware of all the support that the local community has given to this depot over the years,” said Mary Jayne Locke, depot coordinator for the campaign.