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Marines shop for 'Toys for Tots'

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Christmas is a time that is supposed to be filled with joy and giving. However, for many families living in our area, it can be a stressful time trying to stretch every dollar to purchase gifts for all the kids.

The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve tries to lighten that load with the Toys for Tots program.

Shopping carts are filling up quickly for the Christmas season, which means carts are stockpiled and loaded down by Marines.

"Here in the Tri-Cities, there's a lot of kids out there, you wouldn't know, it in the Tri-Cities that need Christmas," Sgt. Jenny Lauzier said.

In the Tri-Cities, more than 500 families are already signed up to receive gifts.

Lauzier said, "All of our toys will be given out prior, about a week prior to Christmas that way it gives time for the family to wrap up the Christmas presents and get them ready for Santa Claus come Christmas morning."

In just two months with donations, the Marines have taken shopping trips just like this spending more than $8,000 to handpick gifts for children in need.

Some of those toys will also be distributed at the Jericho Shriners Christmas party to children receiving treatment across the region.

"I'm sure for some of them it's the only Christmas they'll have. We have a lot of underprivileged children in this area. That's what we do. We take care of kids," Potentate Bud Campbell said.

It is a chance for these marines to show their service in another way.

"To see a kid walk up to you and still believe in Santa and almost believe that we're Santa Claus. It's a really good feeling for us here," Lauzier said.

Toys can be donated for the effort at Toys for Tots drop boxes across the region.

Families will receive toys December 16 at the Marine Reserve Unit in Gray.

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