So depleted that -- for the first time since the Toys for Tots campaign started in 1948 -- the 24th Marines reserve infantry batallion is asking civilians to help sort and deliver the donated gifts while the reservists are at war in Iraq. The Sun-Times' Debra Pickett tells the story:
Maj. Rick Coates, a Marine reservist now on active duty with the 24th, is, in civilian life, a logistics manager for Sears. One of only a few members of the battalion still in Chicago, he is faced with a mountain of toys that have been dropped off at Toys for Tots collection points, at places like Jewel and Harris Bank, and now must be sorted through and matched to the needs of the churches, charities and social agencies that request toys for the children they serve. Coates says he is very concerned about getting all the work done in time.So why aren't other local Marine units picking up the slack?
"The few Marines we do have on hand are either doing Toys for Tots or funerals," said Master Sgt. Beth Piccolo of the Great Lakes Naval Base.You can call (773) 539-7393 to get information on helping the Marines sort toys -- but I'm afraid this may not be the last time that the demands of the Iraq war force our military to turn to civilians for help.