Story by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Janet Schmelzer, Texas State Guard
In its 10th year, the Texas State Guard “Young Heroes of the Guard” Toy Drive 2018 brought joy and happiness to thousands of children across Texas by collecting and delivering 82,176 toys to pediatric hospitals, children’s homes, women’s shelters, schools, and Ronald McDonald Houses.
Since the Texas State Guard launched the toy drive in 2009, guardsmen have delivered a total of 244,911 toys over the past ten years. The toy drive has grown from the first collection that delivered 2,400 toys to children in hospitals in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex to delivering 82,176 toys to children across the state in 2018, which exceeded this year's goal of 75,000.
This year's successful drive meant more toys were delivered to more children in more cities and towns. For the first time toys were delivered to children in the Rio Grande Valley.
"Each year the Texas State Guard Young Heroes of the Guard Toy Drive collects more toys because of the generosity of our fellow Texans," said Sgt. 1st Class John Gately, Texas State Guard statewide coordinator. "The willingness of everyone to help make a child smile with a new toy is truly heartwarming. We plan to continue to collect even more toys each year so that we can spread joy to more children in Texas."
The toy drive starts every November when guardsmen start placing toy drive collection boxes at stores, churches, and businesses. When the toy drive collection ends in early December, Texas State Guard units, at their local armories across the state, begin sorting toys by age groups and then start delivering toys throughout December and into early January.
For the last two years, Five Below has been a toy drive sponsor by making their stores available for collection boxes. Walmart stores also had collection sites. At these locations, store patrons can donate toys that they have just purchased at the stores. Another corporate partner was Hess Corporation which has donated 7,000 Hess toy trucks to the Young Heroes of the Guard toy drive since 2017.
The toy drive's success also meant that the hospitals, shelters, and other beneficiaries of the toy drive will have plenty of toys to surprise children with gifts for birthdays, holidays, and special occasions.
"The toys that the Texas State Guard gives to children in the hospitals and shelters not only provide a happier holiday and Christmas, but the impact is also felt all through the year," Capt. Douglas Richardson, the chaplain for the 8th Regiment said. "A toy lifts a child's spirit. Parents and guardians see their children's faces brighten and the positive impact these toys have on the well-being of the children. This is the finest mission of the Texas State Guard."
For more information on the Texas State Guard “Young Heroes of the Guard” Toy Drive, please visit the toy drive website at http://www.txsgtoydrive.org/.