The children of some deployed South Carolina National Guardsmen will find something extra beneath their Christmas tree this year.
"It shows the families of the soldiers they aren't forgotten by the community," said Dee Woodard, the family readiness group coordinator for the 122nd Engineering Battalion.
Families of deployed soldiers received toys for their children at the Strom Thurmond Armory in Edgefield, S.C., on Dec. 13. Nearly 3,000 toys, from Barbie dolls to bicycles, were donated to the families. The donations were part of Santa's Cause Toy Run on Dec. 7 in Greenwood, S.C.
Between 1,000 and 1,500 motorcyclists and about 125 old cars participated in the event, according to The State newspaper in Columbia.
Sponsored by the South Carolina Highway Patrol and Southern Roads Inc., the second annual event brought in enough toys to fill "nine large military trucks," The State reported.
Toys fill the Strom Thurmond Armory in Edgefield, S.C. Many of them were donated to families of soldiers in the 122nd Engineering Battalion who are in Iraq. Others toys will be given to the 133rd Military Police in Florence, S.C.
Photo by Charmain Z. Brackett
After they arrived at the armory, they filled the place, said Woodard, who spent Friday evening with several volunteers sorting out the toys according to age group and gender.
About 500 families would receive toys from the drive, she said.
Although most of the unit's families are scattered throughout South Carolina, she said, some of the families live in North Carolina and in parts of Georgia. Woodard lives in Columbia County.
She said that the toys were assigned numbers and that family members drew numbers to receive their toys.
"Three ladies were praying for bikes," she said. Two of the women who prayed for bikes and received them couldn't afford them, she said.
After the 122nd family members received their toys, there were still several hundred toys left, which would be sent to members of the 133rd Military Police in Florence, S.C., she said.
The 122nd Engineering Battalion has been in Iraq since April.
The group recently received an extension on its stay. Current orders say members will not return home until June, she said.
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