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ROTC breaks Toys For Tots record

The Bainbridge High School Air Force Junior ROTC broke all records in their 10th annual Toys For Tots drive in conjunction with the U.S. Marine Corps and the Salvation Army.

“We exceeded our goal of collecting 2010 toys in 2009,” BHS ROTC program director Col. Gary Breedlove said at a Friday reception for volunteers who helped with the drive at the BHS ROTC classroom.

Colonel Breedlove, his 2009 Toys for Tots project officer Jessica Dunlap and BHS Principal Tommie Howell addressed the audience.

The U.S. Marine Corps has done a great job with the Toys For Tots project for six decades,” Col. Breedlove said. “Ten years ago, they decided to let other organizations get involved with them. We started with a goal of 200 toys the first year and broke it. In subsequent years, we broke goals of 500, 1,000, 1,200 and this year, 2010.”

Project Chairman Jessica Dunlap, Director Gloria Harrell and volunteer Vickie Harrell of the Salvation Army have all done an outstanding job along with volunteer Helen Nelson, Breedlove.

Dunlap said the Toys For Tots drive is one of the most rewarding projects she has ever been involved in.

“I thank our cadets, students, faculty and staff and people in the community and people for making the project a success,” she said.

“I commend Colonel Breedlove, Senior Master Sergeant Frank Geslak, Cadet Dunlap, Cadet Commander Tiffany Blocker and everyone who made the Toys for Tots drive so successful,” Howell added. “I thought breaking the goal 1,200 toys last year was outstanding, and it was. But breaking 2010 this year was tremendous.”

Special guests at Friday’s reception were former ROTC Cadet Derrick Akins, who is a freshman at the U.S. Military Academy prep school in Fort Monmouth, N.J., and former Toys For Tots project officer Kristen Stone Bautista.

ROTC senior Erick Juarez, who has received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., where he will be attending next year, was also at the ceremony.