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Birthday celebration kicks off Toys For Tots

The Bainbridge High School Air Force Junior ROTC kicked off its 11th annual Holiday Toys For Tots program with a special Monday birthday celebration in their classroom.

For the fourth consecutive year, 9-year-old Piper Harrell, daughter of Chip and Desiree Harrell, donated toys she received for her birthday, which she also celebrated Monday, to Toys For Tots.

In addition, she raised enough money to donate 100 toys this year.

The Toys For Tots program, sponsored nationally by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, is sponsored locally by the ROTC in conjunction with the Salvation Army.

Gloria Harrell, local director of the Salvation Army, who was on hand for Monday’s kickoff, termed Piper’s generosity wonderful.

“What a wonderful gift from a young girl.” she said. “God bless her heart. The number of families applying for assistance this year is higher than ever with so many families applying who have never applied before.”

During Monday’s ceremony, the Air Force Junior ROTC cadets sang “Happy Birthday” to Piper.

Those on hand for Monday’s Air Force Junior ROTC Toys For Tots kickoff in addition to Salvation Army director Harrell included Piper’s mother; her grandparents, Cheryl and Bill Havard; her brother, Charlie Harrell; Bainbridge High School Principal Tommie Howell; senior Air Force Junior ROTC Aerospace Science instructor Lt. Col. Dave Stewart, and Air Force Junior ROTC Senior Master Sgt. Frank Geslak.

In its 11 years, community support for the Bainbridge High School Air Force Junior ROTC Toys For Tots program has grown from collecting 100 toys the first year to more than 2,100 toys last year.

Collection boxes are at businesses throughout the community like Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Golden Corral and The Post-Searchlight.