MCAGCC – Forty-four military families connected to the Air Ground Combat Center will have brighter Christmases thanks to the efforts of students at JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano.
Marines from the combat center traveled to the school on Thursday, Dec. 8, to pick up and baskets of food for combat center families in need.
“We have been having this toy drive for 12 years,” said Bridget Desmond who helped start the drive at the school. She noted that toys had been going to Camp Pendelton but two years ago a switch was made and they began to be sent to the combat center.
“We asked them for any families that are particularly hard up,” she said. The result was 44 families that were adopted by families at the Catholic high school.
When this year’s drive was over, 1,595 individuals had donated more than $25,000 worth of toys.
“It’s a great blessing for our kids to be able to give,” she said. She noted that the Marines who came to pick up the donations were not much older than the students who helped organize this year’s drive.
Emma Moran, the director of marketing and communications at the school, noted that Camp Pendelton, which is closer to the school than the combat center, also gets a lot of attention and focus from the local communities.
“W e wanted to do something with a community that was more overlooked,” she said.
“It’s an all-school fundraiser,” she said, involving students, parents, and whole families and starting a little before Thanksgiving, when families are encouraged to drop off gifts.
Twenty-five or so students keep the toys organized, tagging everything and identifying the proper age recipient for each toy.
The school, founded in 2003, has about 1,200 students.