By Sgt. Brea DuBose, Broadcaster with AFN Bavaria
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — Across U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria, organizations teamed up to deliver holiday cheer by conducting the annual Operation Toy Drop and Delivery event on Wednesday, Dec. 1. Soldiers and their families gathered community-donated toys in boxes at the Bunker Drop Zone, and then rucked them to the 7th Army Training Command Parade Field on Tower Barracks. This toy drop is designed to help local orphanages and build a community, during the holiday season.
Participants said volunteering for this event was joyous and meaningful.
“I have children of my own, so knowing that I can give to other children possibly in a less fortunate situation — that don’t get to open up as many gifts on Christmas — it just feels great to give those kids some more gifts to open up,” said Sgt. Nicholas Rabe, a Soldier with 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade.
At the Bunker Drop Zone, located within the Grafenwoehr Training Area, USO Camp Aachen provided coffee, hot cocoa and snacks to Soldiers setting up the event tents. Additionally, the Service Credit Union donated shirts designed for the event.
The toy drive formally started when Soldiers from the 41st Field Artillery Brigade joined USO volunteers and 4-319th AFAR troops at the drop zone toy table. Then Chaplain (Cpt.) Michael Kayle of 173rd Airborne Brigade delivered a prayer and shared his sentiments on the gift of giving.
“One thing that is true of almost every religion — and even non-religious philosophies — is that giving is important,” said Kayle. “It matters that we are selfless and we give of our time, our energy and in this case gifts, to be able to support those around us.”
He also highlighted the toy drop’s importance of helping to build a sense of community.
“We build internal readiness when we live generously, but then we also get to combine that individual readiness into a community readiness,” said Kayle. “And we’re much stronger when we build that spiritual readiness as an army, a unit, and certainly with our host nation community.”
Soldiers with 4-319th AFAR then passed the toys over to the 41FAB Soldiers and their families. Once the Soldiers put the donated toys in their rucksacks, they marched 5 kilometers from the Bunker Drop Zone to the 7ATC Parade Field.
Staff Sgt. Ryan Lindberg, a section chief of 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Field Artillery Brigade participated in the ruck march and reflected on community partnership with the local host nation.
“I think it’s important to spread holiday cheer to not only American kids, but German kids as well,” he said. “And kids all over the world, because it’s exactly that — they’re kids.”
At the parade field, volunteers with the American Red Cross provided warm drinks to the participating Soldiers and families. Working together, Veterans of Foreign Wars members and Soldiers loaded over 400 toys into vehicles. Later this month, all of these donations will be transported to German youth in local children’s homes.