Story and Photo by
Tripler Army Medical Center Public Affairs
HONOLULU — Soldiers from the Warrior Transition Battalion, Schofield Barracks, gathered together, Dec. 2, to collect toys to fill a sleigh, here.
Master Sgt. Charles Owens, 9th Mission Support Command, originally built the sleigh in 2004. He tows it behind his motorcycle.
Every year since 2004, except for last year, when he was deployed, Owens has rounded up contributions for the “Toys for Tots” program.
Owens was injured during his deployment last year and is now serving in the WTB.
“This is year is very special because I am in the WTB and it is the wounded warriors stationed in Hawaii who are donating and giving,” Owens said. “I think that is special. They (wounded warriors) are so used to having people take care of them. This is their opportunity to give back to the local community.”
Toys being donated will go to children, here, in Hawaii.
The sleigh that Owens and his wife, Joanie, built this year is a renovated version of the original sleigh from 2004. This year’s sleigh has more than 500 lights on it and is decorated in honor of the holidays.
Owens, who has been in the Army for 27 years, said when he drives down the road, he gets a great response from others.
“People honk and wave at me as they drive by,” Owens said. “I think seeing the sleigh really gets people in the holiday spirit.”
However, more important are the toys that fill the sleigh. This year Owens has asked for toys for teenagers. He believes children between the ages 12-15 can be overlooked, so he’s making an extra effort to buy gifts geared toward that age group.
“The holidays are very important to me,” said Sgt. Luke Harvey, WTB. “I come from a big family. I know what it is like to go without, and there is no greater gift than giving. Just to know that the money I donated will buy a toy that will put a smile on some child’s face makes it all worth it.”
Owens filled his sleigh with the donated toys for his ride in the 37th Annual Street Bikers United Toy Run, Dec. 4. Marines were collecting for Toys for Tots at Kapiolani Community College.