Annual toy donation makes holiday special for military keiki

| December 16, 2011 | 0 Comments

Allison Perkins
Operation Homefront

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS – Santa’s elves wore camo. His sleigh arrived via Walmart.

More than 1,000 toys were provided to military children from around Oahu as part of Operation Homefront’s annual toy giveaway, here, Dec. 8.

The national nonprofit organization partners with businesses each year to provide gifts to children of junior service members. In Hawaii, Walmart donated more than 1,000 toys for tots from newborn to 12 years old.

Fisher Price, Barbie, Lego and the Razor scooter were just a few of the brands Walmart donated.

“We could not have done this without their help,” said Ashley Matta, president, Operation Homefront of Hawaii. “We were able to have the event because of a grant Walmart gave us.”

Volunteers from Company B, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Inf. Division, unloaded the toys. They also helped military spouses pick two toys per child, a combined minimum value of $50.

As moms and dads browsed the aisles, some had a difficult time choosing from the wide selection.

“Does this help? Oh yeah,” said Army spouse Michelle Browning, whose husband deploys in January. She said, without the donation her family would have had a much smaller stack of presents under the tree.

“My kids are going to be really happy,” she said.

Army spouse Annette Marlow and her family arrived on Oahu recently and had to cut back on gifts to cover many of the additional expenses associated with their move.

“This really helped us financially to get presents under the tree,” Marlow said.

Operation Homefront sponsors a holiday toy giveaway every year in all of the 23 chapters it operates across the U.S. Each fall, the chapters also provide thousands of military children with backpacks full of school supplies.

During the year, the organization’s main mission is to provide emergency financial assistance to military families. In 2010, Operation Homefront helped 167,348 military families across the country with everything from paying utility bills to providing free housing to wounded warriors, all through donations from its sponsors.

Locally, chapter organizers said families have asked for help purchasing groceries.

Once a family fills out the appropriate paperwork with the local chapter, and its need is verified, volunteers can quickly fill the family’s kitchen. The financial help is a donation, and families are not asked to pay back any amount.

Eligible service members must be staff sergeant (E-6) or below in rank. However, wounded warriors of any rank can receive assistance.

Operation Homefront

To learn more about Operation Homefront, visit


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