Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport employees will once again spread some holiday cheer through the donation of 1,215 gifts to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots program. The toy drive, which began in November and closed Dec. 14, exceeded last year’s collection by almost 200 donations and included three bicycles, stuffed animals, games and STEM kits.
This is the fourth consecutive year that Division Newport employees have supported the program which is held nationwide and provides three to four toys for each child in a family that applies to the program. Founded by Marine Corps Reservist Maj. Bill Hendricks when his wife had asked if they could donate toys to less fortunate children, the drive was adopted by the Marine Corps as an official campaign in 1948.
Erin Oliveria and Natasha Dickenson, both from Division Newport’s Environmental Branch in the Corporate Operations Department, were this year’s organizers for the toy drive because the previous coordinator retired earlier this year.
“Erin and I took on the responsibility of this Toys for Tots campaign after Patti Tavares retired,” Dickenson said. “This campaign was very close to her heart and she made sure this was in the right hands to keep the tradition going. I called her yesterday to let her know how successful we were this year and it made her day.”
“I wanted to be involved because everyone deserves a little joy at Christmas and throughout the year, and many of us can certainly add an extra toy to our list,” Oliveira said. “I knew there would be a bit of logistical juggling involved, but our work in environmental planning revolves around schedules and details, so I knew we could get it done.”
Alongside Oliveira and Dickenson were many government employees and support contractors.
“Our contractors on base play a huge role in ‘Toys for Tots,’” Oliveira said. “Our admins get all the paperwork and memos signed to be able to do this, and Joe Markman, a support contractor was incredibly helpful with scheduling. Plus, contractors who operate the box trucks were instrumental in moving all the empty boxes across base, moving the full ones back, and making the final trek to Cranston, Rhode Island, to deliver all of the toys to the Marines.”
Donation boxes, wrapped in festive wrapping paper, were placed in 20 buildings across Division Newport’s campus and employees were asked to donate toys for children who range in age from newborns to 12.
“I absolutely love seeing all the toys rolling in and going through them,” Dickenson said. “I get so excited for the kids on the receiving end. We have some extremely generous people at NUWC and they really came through with some amazing toys this year. Being involved from the campaign kickoff to delivering the toys to the distribution center was just a wonderful experience overall.”
Volunteers from Corporate Operations Department who assisted Oliveira and Dickenson for this year’s drive include Tara Moll, head, Environmental Branch; Jennifer James, program manager; and employees, Jocelyn Borcuk, Emily Robinson, Jessica Greene, Monica DeAngelis, Katelyn Scannell, Emily Kearns, C.J. McDonald, Mark Jasper, Mike Geremia, Todd Cabral, and Liz Gilmore. Also volunteering were support contractors, Melissa Chalek, David Loiselle, Kayla Anatone-Ruiz, Jack O’Toole, Ryan McLarney, Joanie Duray, Tammy Condry, Joe Markman, James Reilly, Isaiah Brown, Corey Shultz and Shane Anderson.
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