Cadets bring holiday cheer to children in need

  • Published
  • By Ann Patton
  • Academy Spirit staff writer
U.S. Air Force Academy Cadets sponsored the "Toy Trick," an event to gather toys for less fortunate children, at the Falcons hockey team's match against American International College Dec. 5 in the Cadet Ice Arena here. 

After the Falcons scored their first goal, fans tossed donated toys onto the ice.

The Toy Trick program started 10 years ago and has collected about 5,000 toys for local children from 1999 to 2008. Cadet 2nd Class Derrick Burnett estimated the Dec. 5 toss at about 1,000 toys.

The toys will be distributed to children's hospitals in the local area near Christmas. Members of the Falcons hockey team will visit the hospitals in hockey jerseys, sign posters and maneuver large wheel barrows laden with toys for children to choose from.

"This is a great opportunity to get our face out in the community and show our support," Cadet Burnett said. "The holiday trip to the hospital is always a blast, and we love talking to the kids about sports and seeing them laugh and smile."

In addition to the Toy Trick program, cadets also decorated and placed collection boxes for toys in each squadron through the Toys for Tots program.

"This is a very popular project for cadets and usually with a very good turnout, especially because of the holiday atmosphere," said Cadet 2nd Class Steve Kim, co-coordinator of the project. "I volunteered to be a squadron rep because not only did it help children in need, but it also boosted morale and holiday spirit in the squadron."

Toys for Tots began as a pilot project conducted by a Marine reservist in 1947. During its 62 years, Toys for Tots members have collected about 400 million toys for about 188 million youngsters.