“We get to give toys to little kids who deserve toys at Christmas, and some of these children might even be Soldiers’ kids,” added Walsh.
Aside from the excitement over the possibility of receiving foreign jump wings, these paratroopers delight in picking out the toys they are going to donate. The children are what inspire some people as to what toy they select for donation.
“Last year I donated a bicycle, and before that it was a baseball glove and ball, and another time it was a toy train set,” said Hitchcock.
He said his method for picking a toy is to go to the toy store and ask the first kid he sees what he would want for Christmas, and this would be his decision for donation.
Other Soldiers use reflection of their personal lives to influence what kind of toy they choose for Toy Drop. Spc. Ethan Quebodeaux, a medic with the 5-73rd, decided to buy modeling clay as his toy for donation, because of his childhood experience with Christmas.
“I grew up in South Louisiana,” said Quebodeaux. “So we do a lot of evacuations because of hurricanes. I’ve evacuated so many times and there are shelters you can go to where little kids will get toys. I always remember every year getting PlayDoh – always fresh and soft and never dried out. So every time I have to get something for a child, I get PlayDoh.”
Quebodeaux said he also likes the PlayDoh option, because it caters to both a young boy and a young girl. This is important to keep in mind, because sometimes there can be too high of an influx of boys or girls toys.
From the first Toy Drop where a couple hundred donations were collected to last year’s total of over 20,000, Fort Bragg Soldiers continue on with the tradition which was started by Randy Oler 15 years ago. For Oler it was all about the children and it stays the same for today’s Soldier.